Category

ICTs

Déclaration de Paradigm Initiative sur les pertubations d’Internet au Mali

By | ICTs, Internet Freedom, Press Release

 

Les Organisations de la Société Civile au Mali sont encore profondément préoccupées par les multiples coupures d’Internet enregistrées avant et pendant les deux tours de l’élection présidentielle de 2018.

En effet le 29 Juillet 2018, jour du premier tour de l’élection présidentielle au Mali, le pays a enregistré à plusieurs reprises des coupures d’internet. Selon certains utilisateurs des TIC, l’ensemble des communications électroniques ont été perturbés pendant la période électorale.

Ces perturbations des réseaux Internet enregistrées s’ajoutent à celles de ces derniers mois dans le pays. La perturbation des médias sociaux tels que WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube et Skype est aussi une pratique régulière utilisée par le gouvernement pour entraver la communication entre les populations en période électorale et limiter l’action des opposants.

Au regard de la situation, Paradigm Initiative ainsi que l’ensemble des organisations de la société civile rappellent au gouvernement Malien que de tels actes violent la Déclaration Universelle des Droits Humains(DUDH), les déclarations sur les libertés de l’Internet et de la Gouvernance de l’Internet de l’Union Africaine(UA).

Paradigm Initiative appelle par ailleurs le gouvernement Malien à rétablir sans délai l’ensemble des réseaux Internet de communication sur l’ensemble du territoire national, tout s’abstenant de provoquer de nouvelles perturbations dans la période postélectorale.

Paradigm Initiative demande enfin que les réclamations concernant les différentes violations des droits numériques soient réparées tout en favorisant un accès équitable au service Internet sur l’ensemble du territoire national.

Digital Rights Workshop: Empowering Advocates in Cameroon

By | ICT Policy, ICTs, Internet Freedom

Paradigm Initiative in partnership with Internews, AfroLeadership, and CYEED organized a 4-day Digital Rights Workshop from the 18th day of June 2018 to the 21st June 2018 in Douala, Cameroun.

The aim of the workshop was to discuss with civil societies, government, private individuals and other stakeholders in the digital rights landscape of Cameroon and to also train participants on their Digital Rights and on advocacy. This training in June was the third training held in Cameroon as previous training had been held in both Barmenda and Yaounde.

                                      

Participants at this workshop were exposed to a variety of training and resources. While the first two days witnessed new participants, the last two days were for selected persons from groups which had already been working on projects surrounding digital rights from the last two sessions.

One of the first and basic subjects on which the participants were trained was on the topic of what Digital Rights entail, in a session tagged  ‘Digital Rights 101’ led by ‘Gbenga Sesan, Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative. Participants were trained on what internet and digital rights are, on the power of the internet, privacy surveillance, freedom of expression, opinion, association and so on.

In another more streamlined session on ICT Policy in Cameroon, the Google Policy Fellow at Paradigm Initiative, Rigobert Kenmogne treated issues like the laws and the evolution of ICT policies in Cameroon, ICT players and other factors contributing to the ICT Policy landscape in Cameroon.

The session on advocacy and communications was quite impactful as participants not only learned about strategies for advocacy but also on how to communicate a message. The participants were taught on project evaluation and monitoring, knowledge development, public speaking, creating coalitions and so on.

At the same training, a report was also presented by Adeboro Odunlami, Program Assistant (Digital Rights), Paradigm Initiative. The report embodied a case study on the digital rights situation in francophone African countries. At this session, almost all participants shared experiences on the negative effect of digital rights violation witnessed in their country. Paradigm Initiative also shared some lessons it learned from the Africa NetRights Coalition and the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill.

As the workshop progressed, participants were made to carry out practical tasks and discussions.

A session on ‘Building Trust and Relationships’ witnessed the participants answering questions such as ‘what is the current digital rights landscape in Cameroun?’, ‘where does my Organization/work fit in?’, ‘How can we all work together to make each other stronger?’ and other pertinent questions

At the end of this session, many participants revealed personal and organizational skills and resources which they’d be willing to share with other civil societies towards the goal of solving problems we had earlier identified.

For instance, a participant offered free workspace and technological support to another participant who indicated that his organization was working on a website compendium of laws and decrees of Cameroon in English and French language. Yet another participant offered free training for the Interns of participant organizations on Digital Media and Digital Rights. Another offered free social media visibility services and graphic design services. Another offered her skill to engender projects and make other Organizations’ projects more inclusive. Furthermore, another participant offered digital security training for free. There were also offers of free Newspaper pages for Advocacy materials and subsidized training on Communication, Writing Report and Press releases

Participants were also involved in other hands-on sessions where they prepared solutions to problems projected to occur at the upcoming election. Ideas/solutions presented involved building a coalition to facilitate internet access, writing open letters to the government, sensitization, and education of the electorate, managing post-election violence and so on.

                                                          

Also at the workshop, Internews shared a guideline with the participants to facilitate a better understanding of its sub-grant application process.

Elevator pitches were also facilitated by all partners at the workshop to train participants on the proper and precise communication of ideas; a much-needed skill for advocacy

More topics treated at the workshop include budget development and project management for their digital rights projects.

How Nigeria and the Developing World Can Help Reduce the Connectivity Gap

By | ICTs

By Babatunde Okunoye

According to the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development, the world will achieve 50% internet use by the world population at the end of 2018 – just over 7 months away. If the world maintains current internet user growth rates, we will not approach 100% global internet adoption for another two decades.

Achieving 50% internet use by the end of 2018 represents big progress, yet much needs to be done to ensure that in our world of about 7.4 billion people, the roughly 4 billion still unconnected access the enormous developmental potential of the internet.

The Broadband Commission’s in its 2025 plans for connecting the unconnected global population to the internet, has set ambitious targets which include:

  1. By 2025, all countries should have a funded National Broadband Plan or strategy or include broadband in their Universal Access and Service (UAS) Definition
  2. By 2025, entry-level broadband services should be made affordable in developing countries at less than 2% of monthly Gross National Income (GNI) per capita
  3. By 2025, Broadband-Internet user penetration should reach: a) 75% worldwide b) 65% in developing countries c) 35% in the least Developed Countries
  4. By 2025, 60% of youth and adults should have achieved at least a minimum level of proficiency in sustainable digital skills
  5. By 2025, 40% of the world’s population should be using digital financial services
  6. By 2025, overcome unconnectedness of Micro-, Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) by 50%, by sector
  7. By 2025, gender equality should be achieved across all targets

As target “3” clearly reveals, there is an admission that the developing world is crucial in the attainments of broadband access plans. Countries in the developing world such as India (1.29 billion), Indonesia (262.7 million) in Asia and Nigeria (198 million) and Ethiopia (108 million) in Africa account for a very significant proportion of their continent’s population and thus hold the key to bridging the digital divide.

Interestingly, according to data from the International Telecommunications Union, all of these four pivotal nations have Internet penetration less than 30%. It is easy to see how focused policy efforts in the efficient use of Universal Service Provision Funds, free urban Wi-Fi zones, removal of multiple taxation schemes such as “Right of Way” payments, the use of innovative new technologies like TV white spaces in these strategic nations can make a significant impact on global digital access statistics.

In Nigeria in particular, the National Broadband plan is scheduled to be revised this year. With many parts of the country (particularly rural areas) still lacking access to the Internet, all options must be on the table to bridge the digital divide in Africa’s most populous nation. While the current broadband plan mentioned the possibility of exploring innovative technologies like TV white spaces, in implementing this strategy was neglected. Yet the poor Internet coverage in inaccessible rural areas in Nigeria is the precise reason why such innovative technologies must be an integral part of the revised broadband plan.

 

Babatunde Okunoye works as Research Officer at Paradigm Initiative.

Call for Application: Fully-sponsored participation at the 2018 Nigeria Internet Governance Forum

By | DigitalJobs, ICTs

Paradigm Initiative is pleased to announce its fully funded Fellowships to the Nigerian Internet Governance Forum 2018.  

The fellowship is open to all undergraduates in their penultimate year (year before final year), irrespective of field of study.

Selected fellows will be sponsored to attend the 2018 Nigeria Internet Governance Forum in Abuja in July 2018. The fellowship will cover flight, accommodation and per diem.

Selection will be based on the following criteria:

  1. Keen interest in ICT Policy issues in general, and Digital Rights in particular
  2. Willingness to complete a final year project related to Digital Rights, irrespective of field of study and angle (legal, technical, social, etc) of approach to the relevant issues
  3. Availability to travel to — and from Abuja — between July 1 and 4, 2018

Fellows who dedicate their final year thesis to a digital rights issue may also be supported by Paradigm Initiative in their research.  

If you would like to secure one of the five (5) fellowship slots, please do the following:

  1. Record a 3-minute video of yourself speaking on what “Digital Rights” means to you as a young Nigerian.
  2. Upload the video online and share on social media, using the hashtag #NIGF18withPI, and copy @ParadigmHQ
  3. Fill this form and make sure to include the link to your video: http://bit.ly/PInigf

 

You must complete all three steps above before 12 midnight June 15, 2018, when the competition will end. Please note that applications after this deadline will not be considered.   

Brenda Okoro’s MobbiCheck Story: Lessons in Digital Innovation and Persistence

By | Coding, DigitalJobs, ICTs

By Babatunde Okunoye

Every story has its beginning and Brenda Okoro’s story must be told from its very beginning. Brenda’s programming passion was born out of deep curiosity for all things technical. While in Secondary School she had a friend who was exposed to computers early so Brenda would usually go to her house and beg to be allowed to play with her personal Computer (to play games of course!). When fancy mobile phones started evolving, Brenda’s Mom bought her an LG flip phone which she used to play games. However, she noticed that every time she launched a game application, an image popped up with the text ‘Java’ so that triggered her to begin researching what Java was all about.

While in secondary school also Brenda studied Computer Science which did not a great impression on her. She, however, learnt how to draw using the paint application at that time. When she completed secondary school, Brenda told her parents of her desire to attend a computer training institute. Luckily they agreed and enrolled her in a 6-months diploma program while she continued seeking admission into a tertiary institution. During the training, Brenda was introduced to QBASIC, her very first programming language. She did well in the training and finished with a distinction and was offered employment in the computer institute.

In 2012, when Brenda gained admission into Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU, #GreatIfe) to study Computer Science & Engineering, she dreamt of making a first class. She also planned to make a meaningful societal impact through the use of information technology. While she did not make the first class, she did succeed on the second objective of acquiring tech skills for social development.

The tech for good journey took one fateful day when a team from Paradigm Initiative landed on the OAU campus. The team was visited Brenda’s department in OAU and students were asked to wait behind after lectures. The Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative, Mr. ‘Gbenga Sesan, who spoke to the students, narrated his success story to the students and encouraged them to think outside the box in their pursuit of career success. When Sesan, himself an alumnus of OAU, concluded his speech, his team introduced the student to TENT (Techie Entrepreneurial Nigeria Talented, now TECHTIARY), a new program Paradigm Initiative chose to pioneer in OAU.  The aim of TENT was to encourage university students to build startups/tech products & services of their own so that when they graduate they wouldn’t need to loiter around looking for virtually nonexistent jobs. At the very least TENT would help the students pick up relevant skills. The OAU students were encouraged to come up with ideas which would solve local problems around them. Some 100 students signed up for TENT at OAU that year, and Brenda was one of them.

At the first TENT Gathering (the national annual meeting of students involved in TENT in Nigeria), students were asked to present a tech idea to solve a societal problem. Brenda presented an idea delivering a health solution (later to be called MobbiCheck) which helps citizens locate the nearest health centre and provides critical health information. At the end of the three-day event, the best three ideas were chosen and Brenda’s idea wasn’t among them. Naturally, she felt bad though but was determined to succeed next time and never gave up on her idea. Brenda consulted a senior colleague in Google Developer Group (GDG) OAU on how best to develop her idea for future success. His advice, which was prescient, was for her to pick up a programming language.

Luckily Brenda’s department organized programming tutorials on Java so she borrowed her roommate’s laptop and installed Netbeans (integrated development environment for Java) on it. She attended the Java tutorials but didn’t follow through at all, because initially, everything seemed like Spanish. Then came the long break due to the university strike action so Brenda went home and was finally able to learn the rudiments of Java at the same computer training institute she was enrolled in prior to joining OAU.

Then all of a sudden, with more study and practice, Java started making sense to Brenda but she didn’t have a Personal Computer to practice with so she usually went early to the training institute to do assignments and practice. Then the University strike was called off and Brenda went back to school. It was during this term she was introduced to Python but it was mostly theory. Like most students, Brenda opted for the usual ‘cram and pass’ reading. However, her recent knowledge of Java helped her flow much more easily with the course.

In her second year at OAU, as part of TENT OAU activities ahead of 2013 national TENT Gathering, Brenda was asked to build a prototype of the idea she submitted in the last competition. She again asked a senior colleague the best implementation course for the project and he suggested building the prototype on J2ME (Java 2 Mobile Edition). Brenda travelled all the way back to school, borrowed a computer from a friend and learnt J2ME, implemented the prototype on a Nokia phone and presented it during TENT gathering 2013. At the end of the event when the 3 best prototypes were chosen, Brenda’s project was selected and was chosen to partake in Paradigm Initiative’s TENT Angel Investment Scheme – which is a program of long-term support for technopreneurs, created with the support of Nick Jekogian, a board member of Paradigm Initiative and an entrepreneur based in the United States. This represented a victory and change of fortune for Brenda, whose project now received funding and support from one of the leading organizations working in digital inclusion in Africa.

When school resumed Brenda became a superstar and received a lot of calls from participants, congratulatory messages from her course mates and from her lecturers. She became so popular and got her first laptop as a gift from her Mom. She later joined a research lab (iLAB) to sharpen her skills and find team members because an important expert advice and feedback she obtained during TENT 2013 was to work with a team to improve her project’s chances of success. Later that year the Open Technology Movement (OTM) was organized on OAU campus and there she met her team mates. There the new team extensively discussed Brenda’s TENT project and decided to implement it on the Android platform. They also chose a name for the new app – MobbiCheck. Brenda’s knowledge of Android development was limited at the time so she left the implementation to a member of her team who was an Android developer.

As the head of the team, Brenda’s plan was to implement MobbiCheck on both web and mobile so she had to allocate tasks among her group members. Although this division of labour seemed to work for a while, the team eventually fell apart and Brenda was devastated, torn apart and broken. She didn’t know what to do but somehow found the strength to move on. Fortunately she had a plan B, an emergency team. Essentially this involved calling her friends that were very good developers and together they were able to build something worth presenting within a few hours to 2014 TENT gathering held at Benson Idahosa University Edo state. The TENT gathering was a success that year and there were 11 participants from OAU Ife alone. Against all odds, Brenda’s team had a good outing at the TENT program.

Brenda reorganized her team after settling disputes and misunderstandings.  The team also changed their focus to major on Android development. Luckily, Android Code jams organized by the Google Development Group (GDG) had begun at that time so she used the opportunity to learn Android in-depth. During this process, the project lagged behind as a result of the time spent trying to set up the Android studio. The increasing workload of university 300 level courses at OAU Ife too did not help matters. So Brenda opted for online tutorials to help bridge the time and knowledge gap. The project however suffered as Brenda struggled to balance school work and her entrepreneurship pursuits.

TENT gathering 2015 was once again approaching and Brenda, now in 400 level, was already attached to an organization for SIWES (Students Industrial Work Experience Scheme). During her SIWES she worked as an Android developer and improved her skills in Android but was so tied up with SIWES work that she had little time to focus on her TENT project.

When it was time for final year projects, Brenda chose to work on a home automation project to control appliances using voice activation. Although it was the model for the TENT program, she couldn’t use her TENT project as her final year project because it was purely software and her departmental requirements required her to work on a hardware project as a computer engineer. At this stage she was sufficiently proficient in Android development and so could assist her team in the development. In the meantime, a member of her team graduated and got a job and couldn’t continue so yet there was a critical manpower shortage in her team. There was pressure now to Brenda to give up but she didn’t. She instead went for yet another Tech event – a hackathon organized by Konga and participated with a makeshift team of three for the event. Her team members, on hearing of her Mobbi-check project decided to become her project team members. It was then decided to change the Mobbicheck user interface and add content to it. The team then made considerable progress, and Brenda became more experienced in balancing this project with her school work.

At around this time, Brenda got a scholarship for the Udacity Android development Nanodegree. She was elated and immediately downloaded the videos and got busy with projects. There was also a deadline to launch the app on PlayStore before the end of November 2017 as there was a planned presentation of the finished product in Lagos during Techiary Forum 2017. Just towards the end of October however her Nanodegree training was terminated because she did something against the rules (unintentionally). This new setback devastated Brenda and she became somewhat depressed to the point of deciding not to code again. Nevertheless, somehow she did not give up, in part as a result of encouragement from her sponsor and mentor who encouraged her to keep learning even though she wouldn’t get the certificate from Udacity.

November 2017 is one month Brenda won’t forget in a hurry because she worked round the clock to complete the MobbiCheck app ahead of the deadlines imposed by Playstore and the Techtiary team. As a result of the closeness of the deadlines, Brenda met a friend to help work on an app feature while she focused on other aspects of the project. Together they completed the app and launched it on Playstore. This represented a major breakthrough and milestone for her. In the feeling of elation, joy and fulfillment that followed, Brenda shared the link to the app with a few of her contacts to get feedback for improvement of a better version. All considered, in Brenda’s own reckoning and I’m sure many will agree with her, MobbiCheck is gearing up to be a success story. The MobbiCheck app, which helps Nigerians locate local health care centres closest to them and provides important health information, is a story of a locally developed solution, and how its development is overcoming the odds usually stacked against technopreneurs in Nigeria.

You can check out MobbiCheck on the Google PlayStore via the link:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.insight.mobbicheck&hl=en

 

Lessons learned

  1. Don’t rush into just picking anyone as a team mate. Take your time and choose wisely.
  2. Learn the skill if you must it’s very important.
  3. Try hard not to procrastinate and be determined to finish a course (whatever it is) you started.

 

 

 

My Journey to Tech Via T.E.N.T- Oladotun Aluko

By | DigitalJobs, ICT Policy, ICTs, TENT, Web Design

“Is there chops?”. That is the official attention grabber for most Obafemi Awolowo University students whenever an event is announced. It was a quiet evening in 2012 in a lecture room where we sat and listened to a team we were meeting for the first time. The question that played in our head was, “What is this going to be about?”. Well, it was what would eventually become one of the best things that ever happened during my stay in the University.

It turned out that an organisation called Paradigm Initiative was kicking off a new programme and we were just given the opportunity to be the pioneers of Techie Entrepreneurial Nigerian Talented or T.E.N.T (now known as Techtiary). So here came ‘Gbenga Sesan doing one of the things he does best, inspiring younger ones to pick up the challenge of making themselves self-employed through entrepreneurial activities. Believe me, he sure knows how to activate the entrepreneurial nature in people.

T.E.N.T’s structure was very simple; come up with a viable, scalable idea that tackles a problem and find a technological solution to it and develop it into something marketable without necessarily waiting to be out of school before thinking ‘big’. His primary emphasis was that one should not be at the mercy of anyone when there is the option of entrepreneurship and created jobs for others.

It sounds easy or so I thought until the time came to actually generate the ideas (possibly the next big thing). We had several group brainstorming sessions and personal brainstorming sessions. But of course, we had a rather naive approach to generating these ideas. In fact, a friend had spoken around developing a Time Machine. In one part of my mind, my response was, “Bro, just forget it”.

The very first set of ideas were simply just too fancy so I am not going to mention them. However, the real journey started a few months down the line in 2013. It was during this period that I found something more substantial to work on. And then, here came an extended semester break in form of a general university  Strike. This period was really the time I got to work on very substantial things. So I decided to go change the idea. This time, I went for something along the lines of matching skilled and talented people with those that may be looking for skilled personnel.

In essence, it was like an online Marketplace for soft skills. I named this one “Expose” for lack of a better name (you can laugh at me – it was the best I could find). I proceeded with it up until sometime in 2015. At which time, I collaborated with another TENT participant to develop another product which was centred around identifying different places based on the principle of Augmented Reality. This one was named “FINDA”(still not the best name – I know).

Working on these ideas served as the impetus for study and research, to find out what works and what doesn’t and afterwards find out why what works, works and vice versa. During these periods, I picked up a number of skills and learnt a couple of things that have enriched my experience. And sure enough, it has paid off in huge terms. It’s then you find out why the statement, “99% of startups fail” is not an exaggeration. And in fact, the major takeaway is more about developing an attitude towards finding the simplest approach to solving a particular problem.

Developing the Entrepreneurial mindset was the key takeaway. Since then, I have served on a number of startup teams trying to develop simple solutions to seemingly complicated problems and believe me, it’s so much fun. The experience with T.E.N.T, on the whole, was interesting. I do not feel that not succeeding with the ideas is a sign of failure (at least by my own standards), it is actually the foundation for something much bigger. This experience and lessons learnt are quite invaluable.

 

Oladotun Aluko participated in T.E.N.T (now Techtiary) between 2012 and 2017. He is available on Twitter, @nutod_20.

CSOs Write AU, UNHRC Over Internet Shutdown in Togo

By | DigitalJobs, ICT Policy, ICTs

A coalition of some 35 civil society organisations has written to several international bodies including the African Union and the United Nations Human Rights Commission over the recent internet shutdown in Togo. Signatories to the letter include Paradigm Initiative, Reporters Without BorderWorld Wide Web Foundation, Access Now, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Ghanaian Centre of PEN International

The Coalition calls on the international bodies “to bring a halt to the spate of Internet shutdowns in Africa and to publicly declare your commitment to this effort. Also, we urge that as the political situation in Togo unfolds in the coming days and weeks, Your Excellencies use your offices to ensure that the Internet and Telecommunication services are kept on.”

It would be recalled that the Togolese government shut down mobile internet services in the country for six days earlier this month. This shutdown was in response to a wave of protests in Togo against the ruling government. The shutdown was a blow not only to citizens exercising their right to protest but to others who use various internet services in their businesses. This shutdown, however, was met with wide condemnation from internet freedom groups across the globe and the government grudgingly restored services after 6 days of blackout. 

This explains why the coalition has written to international bodies to wade in and ensure internet shutdowns in Africa become a thing of the past. Read the full letter below:

 

Coalition Letter on Togo Internet Shutdown_English

Coalition Letter on Togo Internet Shutdown_French

“I once thought Java was a type of tea”- Ita, StepWiseFlow Founder

By | DigitalJobs, ICT Policy, ICTs, TENT, Web Design

In its five years of existence, Paradigm Initiative’s digital inclusion program, Techtiary has helped discover and groom new ICT talents in Nigeria. Formerly known as T.E.N.T (Techie Entrepreneurial Nigerian Talented), Techtiary has been quite effective in providing the necessary structure for talent development in the universities where it is currently available. One of such talents is Ukemeabasi Favour Ita, the founder of StepWiseFlow, who told us that prior to joining the program in 2012, he had no idea what Java was and even thought the programming language was a kind of tea.

We bring you excerpt from his recent conversation with us.
“My T.E.N.T journey started on the 30th of April 2012 when the program facilitators arrived at Obafemi Awolowo University to create awareness through an orientation event tagged T.E.N.T.50.’’

As the program is designed to run the length of participants’ degree program, Ita was required to come up with a project he would focus on during his 5-year engineering degree program. The idea was to work on this idea and make it sufficient for the student’s final year project. We believe that dedicating this much time and resources to the idea would ensure the production of a solid product.

Ita recalls this stage of his training process: “After joining the program, I was required to come up with proposed project topics to work on for the program. With that, I went brainstorming and finally choose just 5 of the numerous ideas bugging my mind. These are Project A: Pressure Sensor Traffic Lights; Project B: Universal Electronic Schooling (e-schooling); Project C: User Programmable Calculator (UPC); Project D: Single Signal Hybrid Computer (SSHC) and Project E: Human External Hard Disk (HE-HD).”

As the maiden edition of the TENT Forum was approaching, Ita finally settles for Universal Electronic Schooling as his main project for the 5-year program.

“At this point, I had never written a line of code neither did I have knowledge of what computer programs were made of. Sincerely, this memory brings back smiles. I was, just as my mentor Elon Musk, a young boy with big dreams of changing the world. I even named my first startup “changing the world”

He continues: “I registered for the TENT Forum which held on the 10th of December at Awovarsity Hall, and after 2 weeks of constant speech “cramming” and personal drilling, I felt I was adequately prepared to present my idea to the Forum. With my well-ironed shirt, crisp tie and radiant smile, I stepped forward to explain how my “e-University” system would revolutionize the whole Nigerian academic system. I was shocked by the feedback. I was told that my idea was not workable as it was and had somewhat already been implemented. Let’s just say my first TENT event did not go anywhere as planned.”
Ita did not allow this disappointment to weigh him down and like many successful entrepreneurs, he simply returned to work to fine-tune his idea. This paid off.

“After 5 years of hard work, late nights, missed lectures, broken laptops, lonely holidays, my project was finally ready. I strongly believe one of the high points of my story was when I eventually presented and defended the e-University system as my final year project. Truly, it was not as easy as expected as there were various challenges such as lack of electricity and poor internet, but these I overcame through making myself available for several Bootcamps, Hackathons, Developer gatherings, and Programming seminars.”

dashboard

course
“My experience involved me learning various programming languages such as Python, PHP, Java, C++, JavaScript and a lot more frameworks which helped me achieve not just my project goals, but also made me a better person.”
“5 years after that first day in TENT, I have received the technical exposure I needed to thrive. From a young student who assumed Java was a type of tea, I have evolved into a full-stack software developer and Technopreneur with well over 5 years of technical experience ranging from software (mobile and web) development to networking, to database management and also to the world of artificial intelligence and robotics.”

Now in 2017, Ita currently runs two start-ups, Tecky designs and StepwiseFlow. He has also played vital roles in several companies like Sanwo, Kudi.ai, and RIBY Finance as both a software developer and a Technology Lead.

***

This is part of a special focus series on alumni of #Techtiary.

Online courses as a means of developing digital expertise in Africa

By | #PINternetFreedom, DigitalJobs, ICT Policy, ICTs, L.I.F.E.

By Babatunde Okunoye 

 

“The World is flat” is the title of the bestselling book by Thomas Friedman, the influential American author and Journalist, where he argued that several developments in the 21st century such as outsourcing, the personal computer, the Internet, the standardization of commercial technology globally and international trade have led to a shift in economic competitiveness across the world. This shift has created a level playing ground and new opportunities for millions of people in developing countries who hitherto were economically and socially disenfranchised. Empowered by these new opportunities, many of the world’s poorest nations have over the space of a decade developed highly skilled workers who have not only put pressure on workers in developed nations but are also displacing them in some instances. Several corporations in the European Union and the United States now outsource services such as call centre operation and computer coding to markets in Asia.

One of these levellers of development, the Internet, has transformed the way educational content is delivered worldwide. The rise of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) allows millions of people to attain professional and university level training affordably and at their own pace. This has undoubtedly revolutionized education in the past decade. MOOCs platforms such as Edx and Coursera, backed by leading international universities, provide easy access to training in highly sought skills such as Data Science and computer programming.

Africa’s severe developmental challenges have often meant that development workers and partners working on Digital inclusion on the continent have often focused more on providing the basics such as greater Internet access and computer appreciation to the mass of underserved youth on the continent. However, in the past five years, several tech clusters have emerged across Africa, a testament to the maturing expertise of a young people in Africa in the higher end tech skills. As the success stories of these tech start-ups spread, including how they have successfully secured international investment funding, they can inspire a whole new generation of Africans to change the digital landscape in Africa.

Thousands of youths across Africa, using these success stories, can thus envision a viable future in technology. And given the challenges inherent in many education systems in Africa, MOOCs provide an avenue where Africa’s budding technologists can learn with the best students and teachers in the world, demolishing the developmental barriers common to the continent. Raising awareness of the many opportunities that abound in MOOCs is key to this objective. In this regard, Paradigm Initiative has been in the forefront of spreading awareness of the big opportunities available in MOOCs and other digital tools. Through our digital inclusion program called ‘LIFE’, an acronym for ‘Life Skills. ICTs. Financial Readiness. Entrepreneurship’, we are working across underserved communities and schools in Nigeria to improve the livelihoods of youths through ICTs.

For youth in Africa to derive the best benefits from the opportunities inherent in MOOCs however, African governments must resist the temptation to shut down the Internet as they have repeatedly done in the past 2 years. Our Digital Rights in Africa Report 2016 documented 11 cases of Internet shutdowns in Africa in 2016. In 2017, there have been 7 cases of Internet shutdowns in Africa – In Cameroon, Ethiopia, Senegal, Morocco, Mali, South Sudan and Togo. The Internet shutdown in Togohappened on Tuesday, September 5, 2017, in response to political protests in the country. As demonstrated by the story of Nji Collins Gbah, the 17-year-old Google coding champion from Cameroon who might have missed the opportunity to enter the competition had the Internet shutdown of January 17, 2017, in Cameroon arrived a day earlier (January 16, the deadline for the competition), numerous opportunities for self-development for youth are lost through Internet disruptions. For Africa to reach its full potential, developmental tools like the Internet must be kept on and its use encouraged, particularly by young people.

en_USEnglish
fr_FRFrench en_USEnglish