Category

ICTs

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.”

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“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.

#DayOfTheGirl: For the Future of the Girl Child

By | ICTs

By Tope Ogundipe

In the early days, I worked from PIN’s training centre in Ajegunle, Lagos; now known as the LIFE Center. I personally interviewed nearly all the teenagers coming into our ICTs, Life Skills & Entrepreneurship training program (now known as the LIFE Program) at that time. I remember those early days when I would exit the interview room and run to my desk to shed tears. I remember *Joan who was only fifteen, had 7 sisters, lived with her mom who worked as a cleaner in the hospital and ‘hustled’ for a living. I was later to learn that ‘hustling’ in the sense she had used it meant sleeping with men for money. I wept when *Sade told me weeping herself, that the father would not allow her study free of charge at the centre. “He said I would get pregnant eventually, so before that happens I have to work and contribute my share to the family.” I remember a very young boy of fifteen covered with sores. He was working at a building site to keep his younger brothers in school. They lived in a church. When I asked of his parents, he told me his mom had died, and his father had relocated to the village with all his three sisters! Why the girls?! I don’t know if I wept more out of pity for the young boy in front of me or for the future of his sisters who had been shipped off to the village. At least the boys were here – had a chance at the program. But what about the girls?

We worked hard, my team and I, to get more girls into the program. But first of all, we had to earn trust in the community. And that meant that the value of ICTs, especially for empowering the girl child had to be appreciated. The more our success stories emerged and spread, the more ground we gained in our efforts. We went from less than 15% girl participation in 2012 to 53.1% girl-participation across 3 centres in Nigeria, including Kano in North East Nigeria.

In 2007, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN) conducted baseline studies in Ajegunle, the most popular and most populous slum in Lagos Nigeria in order to determine the access that young people had to web-enabled technologies. 46.5% of the respondents were girls between the ages of 14 and 26 years. While up to 48.7% of female respondents had encountered a computer mostly in a common learning room at school, only 7.9% of the girls had learnt any useful or productive skills and only 8% of them owned or had unrestricted access to a PC. When asked why, answers range from lack of money (to purchase PCs or other web-enabled devices or pay for training) to no time or lack of parental consent.

Girls In ICT - Ajegunle

Qualitative data gathered in a series of focus group discussions held more recently (2015-2016) with women and girls in the same location revealed that women and girls especially face even deeper barriers than their male counterparts in accessing and using the technology.  High costs, socio-cultural biases (such as women’s role in family life or male dominance and supremacy), and access to education and knowledge seem to be the underlying critical factors. While some already use technology to one degree or other, they identified cost of access (to devices and the web) as the main constraint to access and use of web-enabled technologies. Fewer still understood the benefits of web-enabled ICTs, and even less had the skills required to access or create valuable online information. Worse still, more than half the girls on the focus groups had experienced harassment and bullying online, but none of the victims had either reported this to anyone or confronted the perpetrator(s). When asked the reason for this ‘silence,’ silence filled the room. In many African cultures, girls are raised to be subservient and accepting. They are not expected to ‘raise’ their voice or be heard. This ‘culture of silence’ by itself is responsible for the perpetuation of many forms of discrimination against and abuse of women and girls.

There is research evidence to suggest that there are greater possibilities for socio-economic empowerment for the girl-child through web-enabled ICTs. Access to technology and training is a basic requirement for girls’ participation in the global information economy. Addressing these barriers that girls face to accessing ICTs will solve the problem of economic dependency and low self-esteem by giving the girls demand-driven and essential digital skills, and possibly connecting them to jobs.  PIN will focus even more in the coming years on digital inclusion and digital rights for the girl child through both its capacity building program and policy intervention initiative.  It has become imperative to do this, and more; for the future of the girl child in Nigeria.

*Not Real Names

Tope Ogundipe currently serves as Paradigm Initiative Nigeria’s Chief Operating Officer, overseeing its 5 offices across in Nigeria, including the ICT Policy Office in Abuja focused on internet freedoms, cybercrime and women’s rights online. She supports the development and implementation of strategy for PIN’s growth, design and implementation of programs. Her consulting experience includes assignments completed for the World Wide Web Foundation and Microsoft Nigeria.

Watch PIN ‘Gbenga Sesan’s #MyNigeria documentary on Al Jazeera on Monday 7th September 2015

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

PIN Executive Director ‘Gbenga Sesan’s CONNECTING A MILLION will premiere on Al Jazeera on Monday  7th  September 2015 at 11pm (GMT+1)

'Gbenga Sesan Al Jazeera

As a school student, ‘Gbenga Sesan was denied access to the computer room at his Nigerian school and told he was not clever enough to operate one. Years later, Gbenga is an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) expert, with international awards and a successful consultancy business. He’s spreading his good fortune by teaching ICT and life-skills to young adults in Nigeria’s poorest neighbourhoods.

Watch the promo video below

PIN Executive Director, ‘Gbenga Sesan Featured on Al-Jazeera #MyNigeria Documentary

By | ICTs

As a school student, ‘Gbenga Sesan was denied access to the computer room at his Nigerian school and told he was not clever enough to operate one.

Premiering on Al Jazeera English on 24 August 2015, My Nigeria is a series of six half-hour documentaries that pulse with the energy of Africa’s leading economy telling the human story.
From stand up-comedian Basketmouth to Nollywood star turned politician Kate Henshaw, from ICT expert ‘Gbenga Sesan to fashion designer Deola Sagoe, from football coach Femi Bamigboye to female mechanic Sandra Aguebor, each film focuses on one central character, who invites us into their world, sharing their story in their own words.

“The series was commissioned specifically to support Al Jazeera English’s brand ‘Hear the human story,’ to bring people’s stories directly to our screens, told in in a first-person style without mediation, offering a range of authentic views,” says Ingrid Falck, head of documentaries at Al Jazeera English.

Gbenga Sesan My Nigeria sg_ajm013

Award-winning South Africans directors Brian Tilley and Clifford Bestall shot the series across Nigeria, which is home to one in five Africans.

“To get beyond the clichés of Africa, there isn’t a better place than Nigeria,” says Ingrid. “For every stereotype of corruption or extremism, there are millions of ordinary Nigerians making this African powerhouse tick. Our series focuses on these individuals to see firsthand how Nigerians are busy making a difference.”

PIN Executive Director ‘Gbenga Sesan’s CONNECTING A MILLION will premiere on Al Jazeera on Monday  7th  September 2015 at 11pm (GMT+1)

Gbenga Sesan My Nigeria sg_ajm034

As a school student, ‘Gbenga Sesan was denied access to the computer room at his Nigerian school and told he was not clever enough to operate one. Years later, Gbenga is an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) expert, with international awards and a successful consultancy business. He’s spreading his good fortune by teaching ICT and life-skills to young adults in Nigeria’s poorest neighbourhoods.

You can also check out details of when the other My Nigeria documentaries will air here

 

Hacking for Good: The Office of the Citizen Hackathon!

By | Advocacy, ICTs

“Of all the institutions of a democratic society, there’s none as formidable as an awakened and conscious citizenry.” – Shehu Sani

Enough is Enough (EiE) in partnership with BudgIT and Paradigm Initiative of Nigeria (PIN) will host a technology for development hackathon on Saturday, August 29 2015 themed “not everytime rant; sometimes act!”

Participants – both software developers and designers – will work to to build a platform where active citizens meet and provide solutions to key trending issues in the country. This platform will also connect citizens with civil society organizations to solve challenges of mutual interest. The ultimate goal is to nurture active citizens who understand their rights and responsibilities and choose to be actively engaged in the governance process to drive socio-economic development.

‘Yemi Adamolekun, EiE Nigeria’s Executive Director said, “Office of the Citizen is an idea that places citizens at the heart of governance as we believe that the ‘Office of the Citizen’ is the highest office in the country – superior to any government office as citizens have the power to determine the direction of governance.”

‘Gbenga Sesan, the Executive Director of PIN added, “The Nigerian Constitution provides that sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through the constitution derives all its power and authority and the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured.”

The Office of the citizen will be a portal that brings active citizens together to brainstorm on ways to help the government with solutions on key issues. According to Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, governments are mere agencies of the people and the citizens need to be made an integral part of the decisions they make. The platform is expected to provide data that will be used to generate an annual ‘State of the Nation’ report that documents issues of interest to citizens and actions taken.

Office Of The Citizen Hackathon

Developers and designers are invited to grow their technology skills, experience community synergy and network with other developers. All skill levels are welcomed and even cheerleaders and supporters can attend.

The first prize winner will walk away with N100,000 and there will be gifts for all participants including refreshments.

According to Stanley Achonu, Operations Lead at Budgit, “We were incubated at a hackathon hosted by CcHub in 2010 so this event has a very special significance for us as it’s the first time we are hosting a hackathon in our own space.”

The hackathon is free but participants & organizations must register to attend. Sign up at http://eie.ng/ootc/. The event will take place at the BudgIT office, 13,Hughes Street, Alagomeji, Yaba from 11 am.

Technology and business support services are invited to support this initiative. For more information please contact Gbenga Aluko on 0708 778 4788.

The event is supported by AIT Infotech Network, Tech Cabal, Google & Microsoft.

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Enough is Enough Nigeria (EiE Nigeria) is a coalition of individuals committed to instituting a culture of good governance and public accountability in Nigeria through active citizenship. EiE Nigeria created the RSVP (Register| Select | Vote | Protect) Campaign to leverage technology, especially social media to mobilize significant participation from citizens in the 18-35 age bloc in electoral process.

Partners include The Future Project, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN), Education as a Vaccine (EVA), Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND), LYNX Nigeria, Budgit, RISE Networks, Chocolate City Group, Empire Mates Entertainment (EME), Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth & Advancement (YIAGA) and Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC).

www.eie.ng

 BudgIT’s innovation within the public circles comes with a creative use of government data by either presenting them in simple tweets, interactive format or infographic displays. We believe that in a democracy, every citizen has the right to know how his/her taxes are expended in the delivery of public infrastructure and services. Equality and open access to governance is entrenched in democracy and its institutions and as such, budgetary information as a vital asset needs to be understandable and accessible to all Nigerians.

www.yourbudgit.com

Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN) is a social enterprise that connects Nigerian youth with ICT-enabled opportunities. Having worked with government, civil society, private institutions and international organizations, PIN’s projects build on years of combined experience and focus on socio-economic development. Our projects include Capacity Building programs such as L.I.F.E. and TENT; ICT Policy intervention programs and the #DigitalJobs campaign.

www.pinigeria.org

#OfficeOfTheCitizen Hackathon: “Not Everytime rant; Sometimes Act”

By | Advocacy, ICT Policy, ICTs, Internet Freedom

As citizens become more aware of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, the dynamics between the “Governors” and the “Governed” will change. Our power is in our collective, amplified voices.

Join Budgit, EIE and Paradigm Initiative Nigeria in a Hackathon to build a platform that will  allow Nigerian citizens to ‘rant’ about important issues and to also provide a space for citizens and organisations to collaborate to solve problems

The Hackathon is open to everyone including CSO, Techies, Designers and Developers

HACKATHONN 1

Theme: ‘Office of the Citizen Hackathon’; “Not every time rant, Sometime act!”

Date: August 29, 2015

Venue: BudgIT office, 3rd floor,13 Hughes Avenue Alagomeji, Yaba Lagos

Time: 11.00 a.m.

Register to attend the event for FREE

 Earn N1000 For Every 5 People You Sign Up On Elance via bit.ly/elancedja

By | DigitalJobs, ICTs

#DigitalJobs is any freelance work that one can do from any location via a computer (or a smartphone) with internet connection.

PIN is giving out N1000 each for every 5 persons you sign up on Elance via bit.ly/elancedja.  To take part in this campaign, please note the following:

  1. You are required to pick up copies of the sign up card from PIN HQ, 2nd floor, 385 Herbert Macaulay Way, Yaba, Lagos
  2. If you are not based in Lagos, you can sign up as many people as possible and send their registration details (Name, eMail, Phone number and Elance ID/profile) to digitaljobs@pinigeria.org with eMail title ‘ N1000 GIVEAWAY’
  3. Please do note that only registrations  done via bit.ly/elancedja will be validated for payment
  4. Do also note that payment will be made for ONLY multiples of 5 (10,15,20 etc)sign ups.1000 collage
  5. Upon confirmation that the registration details sent to us are valid, winners will be invited to PIN HQ on Friday,21st   2015  to redeem the total amount due
  6. Remember, you can win as many thousands as you want just by signing new people to work online via bit.ly/elancedja
  7. Campaign offer valid till Wednesday 15th August, 2015.

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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