By | AbaLIFE, Echoes From Life, L.I.F.E.

Graduating from secondary school, I was gripped with fear because I did not know what else to do with my life. Learning Computer Science (theoretically) in secondary, I developed an interest in tech, but each time I think of my family background, I get discouraged.

During our visit to National High School, Aba, we met Enechukwu Chibuike. Unfortunately, he was not selected to participate in the newly introduced Digital Inclusion (LIFE@School) Club in his school, a Digital Inclusion initiative powered by Paradigm Initiative (PIN).

Enechukwu Chibuike, undergoing training, LIFE 2019 at PIN’s Digital Inclusion Centre in Aba, South-East Nigeria

Immediately Chibuike finished his final exams he rushed to PIN’s Digital Inclusion Centre in Aba, South-East Nigeria. He enquires how much it will cost to undergo the training. He was full of doubt when told the training is free of charge. He reluctantly applied for the second batch of 2019. He was interviewed and was selected. But in doubt, Chibuike ensured that his mother attends the parent/guardian orientation. He spent ten weeks in the center, ensuring he comes early to sit in the front seat. He learned Life skills, ICT, Financial Literacy, and Entrepreneurship.  

In his own words, “The training is an eye-opener to me in ICT, life, industry and otherwise. It helped me to discover the opportunities surrounding me and how to make effective use of them. It made me realize that being an entrepreneur is not just owning a business but the ability to find problems and provide solutions to them. 

Enechukwu Chibuike, undergoing training, LIFE 2019 at PIN’s Digital Inclusion Centre in Aba, South-East Nigeria

Among the modules taught, Chibuike developed a strong interest in web development. “During the training, I developed an interest in web development, learned HTML, CSS, and JAVASCRIPT fundamentals of MySQL and PHP.

Immediately after he graduated from the training program, he got an internship program with LearnFactory Nigeria, also a tech hub in Aba. “The coronavirus pandemic disrupted my internship program. Notwithstanding the pandemic and the global lockdown, I have ‘switched’ to the ‘new normal’ – e-learning/virtual learning.   

I have added a few new programming languages to my skills as I look forward to becoming a full-stack web developer in no time. These new programming languages are React.js, Apollo, and GraphQL. 


How Training Programs and Training Organizations Make a difference.

By | AbaLIFE, AjegunleLIFE, Echoes From Life, ICTs, L.I.F.E.

Numbers are important but a positive impact and track records make the difference. At Paradigm Initiative, our training programs are more focused on impact over numbers. The organization has been in existence for 13 years now and has not deviated from its primary goal – connecting underserved young Africans to opportunities in the digital economy in order for them to improve their livelihoods. The organization has worked with governments, civil society, private institutions, and international organizations, including the United Nations, to set standards in ICT education, telecenter support, ICT applications in rural areas, and other ICT interventions in Nigeria and across Africa.

LIFE Training Centre, Aba.

Over the years, Paradigm Initiative (PIN) has worked so hard to ensure that its focus is not only on numbers but on impact. For instance, one of PIN’s training programs is the LIFE project, an acronym for Life Skills, ICTs, Financial literacy, and Entrepreneurship – these are the components that make up the training program, and its primary focus has always been on youth within the ages of 12-28 years. The LIFE training program started in Ajegunle (Lagos State), a community in the South-West region in Nigeria but has replicated to other regions (South-East, Northwest) and currently working with organizations in the South-South and North-East in order to expand its operations and impact.  

LIFE Training Centre, Aba

As an organization, we have noticed that one of the challenges most training organizations face is the fact that they don’t keep track of participants that have gone through their training programs. They might have the numbers but they can’t measure the impact on the participants. Having records of participants that have gone through a training program has a huge impact on the organization. To start with, it helps with fundraising – grant-making organizations (funders) want to see what you have done and the impact on society. They want to hear and see your beneficiaries share their stories on how the training program has positively impacted them and moved them from point A to point B. Most times, all funders want is “we have done it, not we can do it”. 

Tracking records will highlight the fact that the organization thought leaders in the ecosystem. This will allow other organizations to want to learn and work with you. This also allows funders to look for you when they want to implement a specific project that has your name and expertise on it. For instance, PIN worked with Intel Corporation on the She Will Connect Project from 2016 to 2018 after Intel literally walked into PIN’s office and offered to work with PIN.     

LIFE Training Centre, Ajegunle.

Focusing on impact and tracking records also gives the organization good publicity and visibility. When training programs are more concerned about impact and track records, publicity and visibility are much easier because beneficiaries will talk/speak about the program (project) and the organization wherever they have the opportunity to share their knowledge and expertise.

There are countless benefits when training programs are focused on impact and have records of trainees that have benefited from the program. It’s undeniable that people are eager to associate with training organizations that can track and measure their impact. When this process is in place, it’s easy to get experts and professionals that appreciate the work you do and want to contribute (volunteer) or play a part in the success of the program.

Paradigm Initiative’s LIFE program has a record of its trainees from inception, way back from 2007. We keep a database of all trainees that have passed through the program and this is reviewed (updated) periodically. The project is structured in a way that everyone we train is mandated to send a six-month regular report immediately after the training. This has helped us to know what each trainee is doing per time; the process does not just end with trainees sending reports but program staff also taking the responsibility to check on these trainees. Our program staff also ensures a lasting relationship is created before the trainee graduate (leave) from the program. We use different mediums to track (follow-up) our beneficiaries; we call and SMS them, we create both WhatsApp and Facebook groups for them in order to ease communications, and for those that don’t have emails before joining the program, we make sure they create one for themselves and ensure they get familiar with it.    

Okoye Chisom Gloria, L.I.F.E Trainee.

Every year, PIN produces an annual publication referred to as “Echoes from LIFE.” It is a publication that has new impact stories of beneficiaries from the LIFE program. This is possible because we get updates (stories) from our trainees through our follow-up mechanisms (process). Okoye Chisom Gloria joined the LIFE program after a publicity outreach that happened in her Secondary School in 2012, but she told herself that it was all too good to be true, and she didn’t give it any further thought. In 2013, she enrolled and was selected after a second trial – “The program helped me with people-relations (skills) and exposed me to ICT, and took away the shy nature in me. Chisom volunteered for several years on the program before she went further to study Computer Engineering at Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia State.

Okoye Chisom Gloria, L.I.F.E Trainee.

She was a group leader during practical sessions, taught tutorials to her course-mates, and also helped them with issues such as formatting of PCs, repairs, and maintenance. She makes herself available to share new knowledge with our current trainees when she is on break. Now, she has graduated from the University (2014 – 2018), completed her Youth Service (2019 – 2020), and has fully resumed with KPMG (2020) in Nigeria, one of the leading audit firms in the world as a Front end Engineer with interest in creating interactive and rich user experience products. She has experience building a user interface as a sole developer and as part of a team. We constantly follow-up with hundreds of our beneficiaries following the same process as that of Chisom. With this, the program has never run out of impact stories. Finally, focusing on impact and tracking records informs the organization of the number of direct and indirect beneficiaries recorded.     

We are in the process of replicating the LIFE program in Senegal with two-year grant support from the Internet Society Foundation (ISOC). This was possible because the Foundation saw that we have a database of young people that have benefited from our LIFE program and how they have moved on to improve their livelihoods over the years. That gave us leverage over other Senegalese organizations that applied for the grant.


By Tosin Abolaji – Program Manager, Digital Inclusion.

Creating Opportunities for Girls in Neglected Communities

By | AbaLIFE, L.I.F.E.

It is common knowledge that the female folk are the most marginalized group, especially in most Sub-Saharan African communities. They are always made to bear the brunt of the adverse economic situation of families. This story is not different for most girls living in underserved communities in the outskirt of the city of Aba, Abia State, Nigeria. The introduction of Paradigm Initiative’s youth capacity development training that offers four prong training program in the areas of LIFE SKILLS, ICT, FINANCIAL READINESS and ENTREPRENEURSHIP have seen girls from these underserved communities taking advantage of the training program to acquire skills that are helping them to access opportunities that otherwise would have eluded them.

ANN OGUDORO is a 22 years old girl who was teaching in a private primary school as an auxiliary teacher where what she is paid at the end of every month barely does anything for her as she spends most of the money on transportation before the end of the month. According to her, the only thing that kept her there was her limitation of being a Senior School Certificate (S.S.C.) holder and she cannot get any better job. Besides, she did not have any extra skill apart from her S.S.C.

When a friend of hers who had earlier passed through the Paradigm Initiative’s training told her about the opportunity, she had to quit the job temporarily to participate and upon completing the training she returned to the school with her newly acquired skills. To deploy her newly acquired website development and management skills, she volunteered to handle the backend of the school website which she did very well to the admiration of the school management. The above led to her being promoted from a classroom teacher to be part of the school website management team with a bigger and better salary than what she previously earned.

On the part of Oluchi Anya, an 18 year old fresh secondary school leaver who was looking for an opportunity to get a job that will help her contribute to her parents’ meager income which wasn’t enough to meet their family needs, all her job hunting efforts never yielded any positive result as all the offices she applied to were looking for people with additional skill to their secondary education and she had none then. She tried looking for where to get computer competence skills and found out that her parents couldn’t afford the cost of the training and this almost pushed her into depression. It was at this point that she heard about our digital skill workshop for girls which we implemented in partnership with INTEL West Africa and signed up for it.

After the workshop, she started practicing what she learned in the workshop at any opportunity she had access to a computer. She also resumed her job hunting afresh, and according to her, she was doing that with confidence based on her newly acquired skills and it didn’t take long before her efforts paid off as she got a job as a clerical assistant in a law firm where the digital skills she acquired has helped her to fit into the job very well.

Why Nigeria Must Improve Its ICT Curriculum for Secondary Schools

By | AbaLIFE, AjegunleLIFE, ICT Policy

By Babatunde Okunoye

On July 17, 2017, the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) released the results of the May/June 2017 West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE) conducted across the West African region, including Nigeria. In the past decade in Nigeria, the release of WAEC results is an exercise few look forward to, because of high failure rates of students over the years. The 2017 statistics, however, shows that 59.22% of students obtained a minimum of credits in at least five subjects, including Mathematics and English. In an examination written by 1,559,162 students, some of whom were not writing the examination for the first time, how to react to that statistic is a matter of personal perspective. This perspective might be helped by learning that the pass rate was 38.68% and 52.97% in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

My concern here is not the result itself – which is a manifestation of the travails of the Nigerian students within an educational system that can offer them so much more. My main concern is the perennial emphasis on the number of students “obtaining a minimum of credits in 5 subjects and above, including Mathematics and English” as the benchmark of the health of the outcome. Our current curriculum might just be preparing 21st-century students for the 20th century.

Particularly in Information Technology, our secondary school curriculum in its current form does not prepare young Nigerians for our world as it is today. Although students are offered the chance to study Computer studies in secondary school, a combination of an inadequate curriculum, inadequate facilities and a lack of skilled teachers defeats the purpose. Gauging by the quality of students who go on to become university graduates in computer science – majority of whom do not know how to code competently- it can be said that our educational policy on ICTs isn’t working for a sector which is definitely at the core of the modern economy.

To be effective, interventions to improve the quality of ICT education and manpower in Nigeria must at the least commence at secondary education. Studies of successful ICT entrepreneurs have shown that it takes about 10,000 hours to master the skills required to build world leading ICT products and services. This can amount to about 5 – 8 years of practice for many people. Nigerian students are not different from the young people in the United States for instance who start world class ICT firms while in university, the latter just had the benefit of a better educational system and the benefit of an early start. Improving classroom facilities, the quality of teachers and the curriculum will contribute to improving the quality of post-primary school ICT education in Nigeria.

In addition to improving the quality of ICT education in secondary schools, another avenue the Federal government can explore in improving ICT skills among young people in Nigeria is by collaborating with non-profits who are already working to improve these skills among young people. Paradigm Initiative has, for example, built a record of accomplishment of working with young people in underserved communities to develop their digital skills. Through our LIFE (an acronym for “Life skills. ICTs. Financial Readiness. Entrepreneurship”) program with offices in Ajegunle Lagos, Ngwa road Aba and Dakata Kano, we help improve the livelihoods of underserved youth through ICT skills. Our success stories are numerous and include Martins Olajide, who has created an app that helps young people stay away from the age-inappropriate online content. Through a voice recognition algorithm, it can detect the age of online visitors and shield vulnerable age groups. Brenda Okoro has also created an app called MobiCheck that allows patients to access medical information in real time. Our Echoes from LIFE publication contains the stories of many other stories of young people from underserved communities in Nigeria, who have been connected to opportunities through learning in-demand valuable digital skills. In order to reach more students and make more impact, our LIFE programme is moving into schools across the country and is poised to raise an army of digital perceptive Nigerian youth creating excellent ICT products and services.DAIC Picture 21

Due to the scale of the knowledge and skills deficit, every effort should not be spared to improve the lot of a generation who deserve to be apprised not just with “obtaining minimum of credits in 5 subjects and above, including Mathematics and English” but in the quality of their ICT skills, innovations and inventions.



Echoes From LIFE: Sunshine Esther Godswill

By | AbaLIFE


In her own words…

I have seen huge improvements since I left the AbaLIFE training program in 2016. The ICT skills I acquired during the LIFE program has been of great use to me. Working as a teacher at Saken Model School, Aba, requires that I collate students’ data and report sheets. Now, I compute pupils’ results easily without stress using Microsoft Excel. I also use the Internet to find resources that I use in preparing my lessons notes. Thanks, Paradigm Initiative for giving me this great opportunity.


Echoes From LIFE – Inspiring Stories From Unlikely Places: Ukasoanya Chinazaekpere

By | AbaLIFE, L.I.F.E.

Chinaza was an apprentice, learning to lay building tiles when he heard about the AbaLIFE  Program. What fascinated him the most was that he would have an opportunity to learn ICT skills, which he considered as something that could change his fortune.

Like many young people in Aba who have had early exposure to artisanship; he found the entrepreneurship aspects of the training very relevant to his daily life. Chinaza found new dreams going to the classes and knowing that he could be a tile installer with a difference.

Chika Uka3

After the  AbaLIFE 2015A training, Chinaza started to look for jobs. “We had been taught to market our skills and bid for jobs.” In a short while, Chinasa landed three jobs which had all been successfully completed as at the time he told his story (2015). “I would never have been confident enough or believed I was good enough except for the skills that I learnt during the AbaLIFE  training. I learnt to believe in myself.” He says.

Chika Uka1

He had lost hope of furthering his education beyond secondary school due to lack of resources but now he is bold about the fact that he will return to school. “I have skills and I am making money. I will be able to pay my way through the university where I intend to study Civil Engineering.” He said happily.

Bringing the Service to the People

By | AbaLIFE, AjegunleLIFE, L.I.F.E.

By Tope Ogundipe

Slums typically suggest scenarios of delinquent youth, carefree parents and/or guardians, and a chaotic society. Ajegunle, the most popular and most populous slum in Lagos Nigeria (with a total land mass of 13.9 square kilometers and a population density of 120,254 per square kilometer), accounts for a significant number of unemployed youth – many of who are involved in criminal activities and various vices such as cyber-crime whose negative impact on the society are high. Considering that majority of these youth lack access to mentors who can guide them, and they also cannot afford to pay for the few opportunities that are often brought to their communities, this is not surprising. The obvious lack of alternative lifestyles is a popular excuse for the young people who have adopted criminal activities as a way of life that promises hopeful deliverance from poverty and inferiority complex. But this is rapidly changing. The L.I.F.E project; a train-the-trainer capacity building initiative uses a relay training model and positive peer pressure concept to transform this notorious slum as a model intervention for other underserved communities.


Ajegunle Innovation Centre (AJIC) is run by Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN) in the heart of Ajegunle Community and hosts the L.I.F.E intervention project. L.I.F.E is an acronym that stands for Life Skills, ICTs, Financial Readiness and Entrepreneurship. Following weeks of training in ICTs, the forty applicants (selected every quarter) are also trained on entrepreneurship, financial literacy and life skills and then matched with companies to complete internships or supported to pursue their entrepreneurial interests in order to transform their lives by giving them a chance to improve their livelihoods. These youth, who would not have otherwise had the opportunity to get a job, are equipped with necessary skills and an opportunity to begin a career that may end in the pursuit of their entrepreneurial dreams or positions in the companies where they intern.

Azeez walked into the centre one sunny afternoon in 2013 with an unbuttoned shirt and a bare chest. He spoke roughly and looked every bit a typical street boy. But he had one thing going for him – he wanted very badly to learn. The center now receives a number of young people like Azeez on a daily basis, but this hasn’t always been the case. The project has been on since 2007, and initially struggled to get young people into the program due to a low level of awareness and trust. Even when people knew about the opportunity, it was difficult for them to believe that they would not be exploited somewhere down the line.  But then, peer pressure is very strong among young people, and just as much as this can translate into negative influence, it can also translate even more to positive influence. The project has raised many role models for these youth of the community.


Azeez was influenced by stories of some successful young people within his community who had passed through the project. Stories of youngsters like Famous’, who went on to work in the visa section of the British High Commission in Abuja following his training, earned enough to go back to school and earn a degree, and who now works in KPMG; an international consulting firm spread quickly in the community. There was also Esther, who interned with the United Kingdom Trade and Investment (UKTI) in Lagos and went ahead to become a software developer. Azeez was bent on being empowered financially, getting an education and then moving on to better opportunities.

Born into a family with only three surviving children of several, Azeez is the last of them. He readily admits that even within the Ajegunle slum, his family is still considered among the poorest. “Attending primary and secondary school was sheer miracle considering the financial status of my family. To crown it all, my father was unwilling.” He said in retrospect. After his secondary education, Azeez hung around motor-parks, working as an ‘agbero,’ (these are miscreants who hang on public buses, helping the driver to collect fares, sometimes extorting monies from motor-park drivers and also working as political thugs for politicians sometimes). But being admitted into the L.I.F.E program radically changed Azeez’s life. After his training, Azeez was placed on internship with DHL Nigeria by PIN. He worked with DHL for six months. In those months, he was able to take some of his friends off the streets and introduce them to the L.I.F.E program. He used to be one of the most popular street boys and he had his own following. When he completed his training and a small graduation ceremony was held at the community town hall, Azeez’s previously ‘uninterested’ father was present. More parents/guardians are coming into the AJIC, making enquiries, and picking up forms for their wards. An ardent mother once said to us; “You must do for my son what you did for *Mama John!” More young people in Ajegunle are saying ‘no’ to the negative pressures of their peers and criminal activities and are pursuing with passion a proven and wholesome opportunity that includes capacity building, work placement, an opportunity to give back and the overall mission of improving their livelihoods and those of their families.

Since leaving DHL, Azeez has taken entrance exams into the university and is now studying at the University of Ilorin, Kwara State, one of the foremost tertiary institutions in Nigeria. At a time when criminal activities (especially cybercrime) among young Nigerians was fast becoming a global identity for the nation, the L.I.F.E project stepped in to provide much needed reform for young people living in underserved communities in Nigeria. The project extended to Aba, Abia State in 2014 and is resident in an equivalent of Ajegunle Community (Ngwa Road), in the Aba town of South-East Nigeria. Baseline Studies are currently ongoing in North-West Nigeria for determining a suitable location for the project in that region.

#PINWeeklyRecap (Monday 5th – Friday 9th, 2014)

By | #PINWeeklyRecap, AbaLIFE, AjegunleLIFE, ICT Policy, Internet Freedom, L.I.F.E., TENT

It has been an exciting first week of work for us at PIN. We hope it has been for you too. Today, we will be bringing you a recap of activities this week.


We are excited about the #DigitalJobs Jobs campaign. Over 1000 people have registered to get trained by PIN on preferred skills, 80 of whom have been trained in the last month of 2014.  PIN seeks to train about 160 this quarter. If you haven’t signed up to be trained yet, you should sign up here. You should also sign up on eLance to start getting #DigitalJobs opportunities whether or not you have been trained.


On Tuesday, we announced that the L.I.F.E. project will be expanding to 2 new regions in Nigeria. Work is ongoing concerning this. Applications are now open for #AbaLIFE and #AjegunleLIFE class 2015A. 40 students will benefit directly from #AjegunleLIFE every quarter while 72 students will benefit from #AbaLIFE every quarter of this year. Stay connected to our social media platforms for updates.  Remember, you can also volunteer for different training sessions (ICT, Entrepreneurship and Life Skills)


We announced on Wednesday that Techie. Entrepreneurial. Nigerian. Talented. (TENT) will host 2 workshops and one annual event across Nigeria this year.  PIN is currently nurturing 23 OAU students in various ICT related projects. 3 of these projects are currently receiving international funding support. The Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) will be hosting the South-West edition of South-West! This South-West TENT workshop is slated for March 2015. Registration details will be shared soon. PIN would also host a Summer Camp later in the year, bringing together budding ICT talents from secondary schools across Nigeria. We would fill you in with details as plans unfold.

ICT Policy

Our weekly #PINternetFreedom Thursday focused on ‘Internet Freedom and Human Rights.’ We shared a few tweets explaining how the same Human Rights offline should be applicable online. Please check out the tweets here in case you missed it. Registration is also opened for the North-West edition of our Internet Policy Training which would be holding in Kaduna. Register to attend here.


Follow us on Twitter @PINigeria to get daily updates on our activities.

A Time To Map: Mapping The Nigerian Tech Ecosystem

By | AbaLIFE, ICTs, Uncategorized

Image courtesy Co-Creation Hub, Lagos

There is a time for everything. There’s a time to learn, and a time to apply that which has been learnt. There’s a time to apply what’s been learnt, and a time to show results. There’s a time to show off results, and a time to connect results and resources with others. There’s a time to connect, and a time to raise a new generation of doers. And then, there’s a time to ask who exactly is doing what, where and when. For the Nigerian tech ecosystem, that time – the time to map the industry – is now.

For a while now, I’ve had two kinds of conversations with various people around the not-so-defined buzz within Nigeria’s tech ecosystem. From eCommerce to policy, start-ups to hubs and events to some more talk, Nigeria is seeing a revolution similar to what happened in the ’70s when a generation of tech people returned home from new knowledge acquired on a topic that was still magic at home. Today, that generation sits atop industry associations that many accuse of being disconnected from the real work of innovation going on in the Nigerian tech space.

My conversation has been with two broad categories: those who want to make a sense of what’s up with Nigerian tech so they can benefit from the revolution, and those who are within the thick of things and just want to know how what they’re doing impacts the bigger picture. The advantage of this is that one gets better perspective of the ecosystem, but it also comes with the disadvantage of spending valuable time explaining what can actually be made available as a resource for future reference and relevant consultation. That explains my excitement when CcHub’s Bosun Tijani and I discussed the need to map Nigeria’s tech ecosystem few weeks ago.

In the early days of tech in Nigeria, it was easy to know what folks were doing because everyone sort of met at one watering hole or the other – meetings, contract bids, etc. But then, the industry has grown with Nigeria and we now have so much going on such that it’s impossible for us to have as many touch points as are required for anyone to make sense of chaos. Some of the demerits of this scenario include the replication of exact same projects with strained resources; disconnect between government, academia and industry; complex process of engaging ideas within the ecosystem from outside; and more.

Mapping the ecosystem is like bringing order to somewhat organised chaos. It will help us see who is doing what, where, when, and more. It will also allow actors – or intending players – know who to engage and exactly what space everyone plays in. Just as a map allows us see where each utility exists to serve the community, a mapping exercise for the Nigerian tech ecosystem will allow us see who is working on policy, capacity building, research, incubation, funding, bottom-of-pyramid engagement, mobile, getting-hands-dirty and all that needs to be done, or is being done.

It then makes it easy for new entrants to know who their existing competitors are, where they fit within the food chain and/or who they can hook up with as partners. As an investor, you can easily see where your money will have most impact instead of playing “tente” based on who you know and think may know what you’re looking for. It also becomes easier for government to see policy gaps, for the academia to see where research is most needed and also for the media to see better connections between seemingly isolated activities.

So, it’s the time to map. And this is an early invitation to engage the process when PIN and CcHub call for a stakeholder session in Q1 2013.

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