Catch Them Younger: First ICT4All Workshop Holds

ICT4All Workshop 1

The New (or Knowledge) Economy is driven by ICTs, and that means that the level of exposure (or eventual expertise) of individuals to ICTs would be reflected in their degree of participation in the New Economy. There is a strong need to equip young Nigerians with ICT skills that can help them with personal development, career growth and possible global participation. In line with this need, one cannot deny that the present level of exposure is tilted in the favour of young people who attend private schools, or whose parents can afford to pay for computer lessons. While the Lagos Digital Village was established to meet this need by providing free training services for underserved youth (especially beginning from the Ebute Metta area), there is still the need for a massive knowledge campaign that will at least introduce underserved youth to the potential of ICTs.

ICT4All Workshop 1

To this end, we designed (with financial support from Heinrich Boll Foundation) the ICT4All Workshop, with the first edition holding today, March 29 2006, and brought together about forty (40) young people from secondary schools in Ebute Metta and Ajegunle for the purpose of introducing them to computers and Information Technology. In a seminar that featured discussions and practical demonstrations, facilitators trained these young people (in partnership with Paradigm Initiative Nigeria) and discussed the need to follow up with their schools by of setting up (or supporting existing) ICT Clubs that can keep the knowledge relevant and applicable — rather than as a one day encounter.

ICT4All Workshop 1

Moderated by Tope Soremi, the meeting (wich held at the Lagos Digital Village) began with registration and introductions. The day’s work resumed immediately, with a presentation by Seun Olajide titled, What’s in the Box?. The Nigeria Rocks! documetary was next, as it introduced students to some form of work in progress. Ayo Oladejo was next with his No Change Without You! which dealt with the need to move from abusive use of the Internet to productive use. Trust him to touch on the issue of cybercrime and alternative exit points.

After lunch, I spoke with the students about Starting an ICT Club in Your School and also introduced the students to the Nigerian Youth ICT4D Network. It was really exciting for me, noting the interest with which students listened after lunch (not always a good time to make your presentation for fear of nodding heads), and I ended the session in high hope that we can at least start with supporting ICT clubs and help expose these young minds to the opportunities that ICTs provide — thus strategically positioning themselves for personal development, career growth and global participation. Tope had a few questions (including some on the eclipse) and prizes were awarded.

NIRA Takes Off

General Assembly meeting...

I guess the first question on your mind would be, “what’s NIRA?” I’ll explain: NIRA is the acronym for the Nigerian Internet Registration Association.

After many years of many things for a lack of some better expression (including one of such meetings in Lagos shown in the picture above), some stakeholders met at the Shell Hall of the MUSON Center today, from about 11am till 6pm. The announcement was quite late, and wasn’t helped by the census work-free week preceding the event, but enthusiasts showed up in their numbers — though a far cry from the space available in the hall. The meeting started at 12:12pm, with an interim chairperson in the person of Dr. Chris Nwannena (President of the Nigeria Computer Society) who stood in for Prof. I. S. Diso (Vice Chancellor of the Kano University of Technology, who was delayed in such a way he couldn’t have helped).

Beginning with brief remarks by both the chairman and the Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Prof. Cleopas Angaye, the assembly considered the minutes of the last meeting and adopted after a few changes were made. Then, the major business of the day started — presentation and ratification of the draft constitution. You should have been there to see how Nigerians make intellectual contributions that could make a school consider awarding them a doctorate in a field they are not trained in. 🙂 One must also acknowledge (among others) the intellectual input of the Internet Service Providers Association of Nigeria (ISPAN) that obviously did their home work well and contributed — along with others — to the success of some knotty technical issues (which is their turf anyway).

The issue of how many people would form a quorom for an annual and special general meeting was debated extensively. The other platform, the eGeneral Meeting (Electronic General Meeting) seemed to have a general appeal and was immediately accepted. At the end of the day (not as short as my blog will make you think) :), the general agreement was that 15% of the members should be accepted as the quorom. For specific details, you may wish to become a member and request a copy of the constitution. 🙂 Membership was also extensively discussed, and two issues caught my attention there — age limits and fees. The issue of fees enjoyed interesting suggestions but I couldn’t stand the idea of leaving young Nigerians under the age of 18 out of the community. After a few minutes of discussions, it was agreed that anyone (regardless of how young — even toddlers :)) can become a member of NIRA, as long as there is parental consent for those who are recognised by law as minors.

Things moved fatser towards the end of the meeting, and a great highlight was the election of the members of the Board of Trustees. The nominations (not in any specific order) from the assembly included Prof. I. S. Diso (outgone interim chair), Dr. Nwannena (NCS President), Dr. (Mrs) Osofisan (CPN), Dr. Odeyemi (first PhD holder in Computer Science in Nigeria), Y. Z. Yau (CITAD, Kano), Mrs. Odusote (Ministry of Information and Digitest founder), Mr. Alao (NIG), Shina Badaru (Technology Times), Akinbo A. A. Cornerstone, Sunday Afolayan (ISPAN/Skannet), ‘Gbenga Sesan (:)), Ndukwe Kalu (ISPAN) and Chinenye Mba-Uzoukwu (Infographics). The last four declined the nominations for various reasons, and there was then no need for any form of voting.

NIRA now has its Board of Trustees, would be registered, and the .ng flag is about to rise high! The door will soon be flung open for membership and I’m sure qualified people are looking forward to that. Its another day in the history of Nigeria’s internet presence and participation, and I look forward to a great new day. Welcome, NIRA. Hello, world!

The Blessing of Curses

The dawn of a new day...

On the 2nd of April, I’ll be speaking at the April Business Meeting of Junior Chamber International – Nigeria’s Eko Chapter. I have decided to share thoughts with them on, The Blessing of Curses: Emergence of a New Generation of Leaders for the Nigerian Nation. I had prepared a few notes on this same topic for the March 11 Leadership Summit hosted by Fifth Gear Consulting but couldn’t be at the meeting. I have decided to build on the notes, and share the expanded thoughts at the business meeting. Nigeria is at a critical stage, and I’m sure that there are tons of questions on the minds of each Nigerian on the future of the nation.

A new generation of leaders...

Anyone who feels pain is still alive, and may in fact move on to become dissatisfied and ready for change. During the presentation, I will draw a parallel between blessings and curses — limits and opportunities. Considering such sub-topics such as “No Pain, You’re Dead!”, “Darkness is Not a Curse”, “Where are the Leaders?”, and “Genes or Jeans?”, I will discuss the amazing opportunities that are evident owing to the present level of decay within the Nigerian environment. Calling for a new generation of leaders who can take us to the “New Nigeria”, I will also discuss the most audible — yet silent — announcement of the day: “Vacancy! Vacancy!! Vacancy!!!” You will be introduced to “A New Economy” as I rely on years of national/regional/interntional ICT involvement opportunities to explain how Nigeria will move from the third world to the first. Moving the discussion from Nigeria (as it often is) to you, I will share thoughts on “Dream With Eyes Wide Open”, taking you through time-tested steps that have turned chaos and urgent needs into national reformation. From my personal archives, I will explain why I believe that Nigeria will be the most desirable nation by 2025 — and invite you to take action in order to be on the stage when the curtains are withdrawn.

For more details on the meeting (and to participate), please contact the training director of JCI-Nigeria, Eko Chapter: 0803 578 19 01 or

National Census — and an Internet Census

Human and Digital Census

For the next few days, Nigerians are all involved in one project — the national census. By the end of the process, we should know exactly how many Nigerians live in Nigeria — 120 million? 150 million? Less? More? And as soon as that census exercise is over, another census (that will seek to consider how many Internet enthusiasts there are in Nigeria) will hold at the MUSON Center in Lagos. Just like the shame of not knowing how many of us there really are (to help effective planning), this digital census should help rid Nigeria of the shame that contention and slow-paced action around the .ng issue has brought. Listen to Financial Standard’s Chima Akwaja on the census — in his article titled, Stakeholders set to ratify Nigeria’s Internet body:

Stakeholders in the Internet community are set to ratify Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA), the non-governmental organisation that would oversee the administration of the country code top level domain (ccTLD), Nigeria’s signature content on the internet. The first annual general meeting (AGM) would hold next week Tuesday in Lagos.

There are indications that the meeting would ratify the constitution of NIRA. The Internet body formed last year has been unable to get off the ground due largely to the inability of the Nigerian Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), government’s information technology implementation arm to pursue the establishment of the executive body of the Nira.
Mr. Kem Abonta, public relations manager of Nitda said the meeting would hold unfailingly. He said the government is serious about “appointing a board of trustees (BoT) for the Internet body and the ratification of the constitution.” NITDA has been criticized for the inability of Nigeria to establish a huge Internet content on the web. Instead the country is being reckoned for online fraud.

Since 1996 when Nigeria first registered its domain name on the Internet, so far only about 800 websites have been registered to date with the .ng suffix. Last year March, Nitda hurriedly called a meeting after some Nigerians who took offence at its reluctance to establish a non-governmental organisation to run the affairs of .ng embarrassed it. This led to the formation of Nira. The second meeting slated for September last year could not hold due to lack of quorum, as it did not send the notice of the meeting on time to the stakeholders. This is the first meeting to be convened by Professor Cleopas Angaye, Nitda’s director general who succeeded Dr. Moses Ubaru, Nitda’s erstwhile acting director general.

The process of handing over .ng was halted following the death of professor Gabriel Ajayi, former director-general of Nitda in December 2004. President Olusegun Obasanjo had mandated Nitda to ensure that technical and administrative management aspect of .ng are handled by a non-governmental organization. Mr. Randy Bush, an American, is still handling the technical point of contact.

So, stand up to be eCounted. See you at MUSON Center on Tuesday, March 28 2006.

ICT Africa Investment Summit 2006 hosts Youth Summit in Rwanda

Africa's Youth Meet in Rwanda

The ICT Africa Investment Summit is an annual forum where African stakeholders in the ICT sector gather together to address issues that are critical to securing increased investments in the broadcasting, IT and telecommunications infrastructure – and service delivery – in Africa. The Summit also highlights the investment opportunities in the sector and identifies options for accelerated development of the ICT infrastructure in Africa.

For the year 2006 this event will be hosted by Rwanda in collaboration with Kemilinks International. The event which will be held in Kigali (Rwanda) from the 4th to the 6th of May 2006, at the Conference Centre of the Intercontinental Hotel will bring together African stakeholders in the ICT sector ranging from policy makers, regulators, operators, service providers, potential investors, financial institutions, consumers and others.

A major highlight of the 2006 edition of the summit is the Youth Forum. Youth and ICTs_Rwanda’s proposal for the youth forum within the main summit has been approved by the organizers, and Africa’s youth will participate under the umbrella of the ICT Africa Investment Summit Youth Caucus. Youth participation to the summit will be a new and challenging opportunity for this group of young professionals to bring to governments, private sector and donors their specific concerns and strategies for the establishment of sustainable infrastructure within the ICT sector in Africa – and how to improve the service delivery.

This is of benefit to all participants of the summit considering the position of youth in the current fabric of the society. Noting that the median age of the African population is less than 20 – and the fact that young people have unprecedented potentials in embracing ICTs, adapting them to their context and when possible inventing those technologies in order to create digital opportunities for all – the youth element of the summit is of major importance to organizers and participants.

If you are interested in participating in the Youth Forum, please download the guide here. We hope that the guide will help you take action at the national level as we prepare for the Youth Forum. You can also register on the mailing list of the ICT Africa Investment Summit Youth Caucus, at

The Bank in Rural Pockets

The Nigerians in Addis

Yesterday was an important day for me, coming with high points such as my presentation, mentorship discussions and great news for the Nigerian rural (and other) mobile phone users. The day began with last minute arrival at my temporary hideout in Addis Ababa, following a disappointing experience with my debit card service provider who made me travel without sufficient funds — and my major saving grace was the pre-planned travel arrangement that eased my movement from the Lagos airport to the Addis final stop. I took another look at my planned presentation… and woke up 🙂 Then, it was morning and I proceeded to the United Nations Conference Centre for the eTrade Forum. After registration and the usual, “Oh, Binga [a rather “close-enough” attempt to pronounce my name], when did you arrive?” and “Bonjour”, I made my way to the plenary room.

The Nigerians in Addis

After a few interesting presentations by experts from various countries (including Senegal, Ethiopia, Canada and Togo), I made a presentation on eTrade and Youth Development which holds a very strong place on my mind — and in my heart. I am tired of the usual statistics that the employment market throws up in Africa, and think its time for young people to begin living their future by finding discovering the alternative path called entrepreneurship. Global trade is unfair as it stands, but we can not afford to fold our hands and keep begging for crumbs. I shared a few thoughts on the issue of cybercrime and the need for alternatives, and spent a few minutes to discuss the increasingly important role of Africa’s young social entrepreneurs. The presentation also gave an opportunity to tell governments to stop paying lip service to youth development issues and actually get to the task of getting things done. We had an informal Nigerian meeting after this, and I was just wondering why we have such brilliant people and some things are not yet the way they should be. I remain sure of the fact that personal development is on the rise for diverse sectors within the Nigerian economy, and that many of these individuals will soon connect to provide model institutions that will rhyme with the heartbeat of the New Nigeria.

The Nigerians in Addis

The evening cocktail proved to be effective, as I had the privilege of spending time with Mr. Shola Taylor (a Nigerian-born, UK-based global telecommunications expert) during which the major focus was on support for young Africans (and Nigerians in particular) and the need to provide mentorship for these young minds that seek to connect with success stories coming from those who have been where they are today. A few additional introductions and further discussion on my earlier presentation also added colour to the evening for me. But just when I was about to settle into my seat for the ride to the hotel, I heard a silent whisper of my name from a neighbouring seat. “Binga”. “Here we go again”, was what I thought. I turned to see who it was, and it happened to be Brian Richardson (of Wizzit South Africa), who is of course known for the dynamic multi-platform mobile banking revolution that he is spearheading in South Africa. We talked all the way to the hotel, and for a few minutes before he retired for the night. At the end of the discussion, he excitedly asked me to tell his friend, Folusho Phillips, that he was ready for the Nigerian market. For the service (simplistic mobile banking), potential market (20 million mobile phones and growing) and other add ons (including possible deals with mobile phone manufacturers that can crash phone prices to as little as $4), I can only imagine what revolution lies ahead — and mind you, this is not another government announcement, but a business opening. A few service providers provide locked-in mBanking services for their subscribers but here comes a pro-poor multi-platform service… get ready for the bank in your pocket.

Out Of Georgia

That's me beside Dr. King's 1966 suit

[Typed offline, but posted today]

I’m finally on my way out of Georgia — after missing my earlier flight (a few friends know why :)), and missing my much-anticipated meetings including the Fifth Gear seminar where I’d planned to speak on The Blessing of Curses: Emergence of a New Generation of Nigerians for the Nigerian Nation and my weekly management meeting at Junior Achievement. It was funny when I was checking in (you can bet it was about 5 hours ahead of time) at the KLM counter earlier today and the guy at the desk said, “sorry you missed your earlier flight sir, but it must have been for a reason”. You can bet it was — thanks a lot, Yomi! And my sincere apologies to those who had eMailed to say that they would meet with me after the March 11 seminar.

Dr. King's robe at the Ebenezer Baptist Church

There are tons of global snapshots of history that have come out of Georgia. Talk about the legendary Martin Luther King Jr. and Ray Charles (whose song, “Georgia On My Mind” can’t seem to escape my memory), and you remember Georgia. As I walked the streets in the evenings I had a few minutes to walk to the hotel, I felt grateful to those who made sacrifices in order to establish equality and fairness among citizens of the world. I was also chanced to see the “Class Reunion” and “Family Reunion” by Mandea, which told an excellent story of how young black men and women need to stand up to the opportunities that the earlier struggles are providing!

Placard for 'The March on Washington'

You can then imagine how I felt when I was on my way out (towards the Homeland Security check out kiosks) and saw items from Martin Luther King Jr.’s wardrobe — his spectacles (which were not recommended but he felt made him look distinguished), suit, church wear, and more. I asked the US Marine who was also admiring the images if it was safe to take pictures, because of an earlier experience of a friend who took pictures at another airport. He said he wasn’t the right person to know, but thought it was okay. I thought it was smart to ask him to help take the pictures 😉 He did, and I took a couple more after he walked away. It was an amazing feeling standing beside Dr. King’s suit (the one he wore during his meeting with President Lydon Baines Johnson at the White House, urging him to enforce full implementation of the Voting Rights Act that he signed during the previous year) and to see that he did spend a lot of time with his family before heading off to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

A few of Dr. King's personal items

His life stands as a witness to the fact that things can change! Nigeria will change… it will only take a few young men and women (or others who are young at heart) to stand up for what needs to be, and not be subdued by what has always been — and looks like it’d never change. Coupled with the vivid images of Dr. King that I saw, the companion DVD for The 8 Habits has an amazing video on Berlin. It features the story of how East and West Berlin grew out of a united city, and how everyone almost came to accept the walls as the norm. In came Kennedy (among other effortsm, you can be sure), who said, “these walls will one day give way for freedom”. And they did… you should have seen the tears in the eyes, the wildness of joy, and the unending celebration. A few days — maybe hours — before then, the Berlin Wall was standing, immovable and unconquerable. But just like Saddam’s status in Iraq, it came down.

Played with his son before leaving for the Nobel Peace Prize

Many people have said that Nigeria can not change. But I wonder what their story will be when, not if, things do change. Stand in your own place… and this is true for families, organisations, nations and more that are going through troubled times. Take your eyes off the wall and discrimination, and see the dawn of a New Day. That will fuel you with enough energy to work towards the reality. Lift up your eyes and behold the New Nigeria… its coming as a reality, line upon line, brick upon brick, agency by agency, state by state, constituency by constituency, profession by profession, value by value, and with one person after the other. When next you hear someone talk about New York, smile about the emergence of a New Nigeria. When someone says (or even whispers) New Orleans, New Hampshire, New England or New Zealand, brace yourself for the New Nigeria. Though I need to move on to Ethiopia (to speak on the role of the African youth in global eTrade) the next day after I arrive Lagos, I hope to make a few calls in order to set a better date for my presentation on The Blessing of Curses. I’ll keep you posted…

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Two Days at the Hyatt Regency

With Susan at the Hyatt Regency

After the experience with my brothers yesterday, I met another brother today — right in the International Ballroom where we had lunch. He had a better story to tell: Arriving the United States 22 years ago, Duke moved from staying on the streets (his cousin failed to show up to pick him up at the airport) to working with a social enterprise in new York. He grew up in Lagos and after a deep sigh, he said, “you know I really want to go back home. This ain’t home, you know. I really want to do a lot to help back home, and I wished people would just understand … Hard work pays though.”

I arrived in time for yesterday’s pre-conference workshop on “Introduction to Earned Income Strategies”. We discussed strategies for non-profits seeking additional income through the adoption of the social enterprise model. The story of the bakery that took kids off the street was fascinating, and many more models were discussed. As it is, there are tons of models for non-profits to adopt within the Social Enterprise framework, but each organisation needs to understand its own core competencies, commercial opportunities and ensure the preparation of a proper plan. It is also important not to lose the sense of mission with which the organisation started out. I’m just wondering what non-profits across the Nigerian and African landscape feel about this new model that helps you solve the problem of sustainability and vision ownership. The evening ended with an Ice Cream Social and Social Enterprise Marketplace, where I had my fair share (not so much, really) of diverse flavours and met with some dynamic project leaders. Susan Dvora (thats her in the picture above) leads HappyTalk, a Chicago-based program that helps South African craft makers earn more income by helping them benefit from royalties when their work is used by corporations in the US. Loretta Kennedy is the Program Manager for FareStart’s Barista (and its got nothing to do with Alhaji Agba’s Fuji music), a Seattle-based social enterprise that offers employment to at-risk youth.

Today began with introductions and my presentation was at 10:15am. After getting lost again inside the Hyatt Regency Hotel building, I found my way to the venue of my session way ahead of time. With everything set, I was expecting participants… and they arrived so early I had to check what time it was. Its really great to be an African, you know. People really want to know what’s the reality of the situation and we need ambassadors who will truly stand with optimisim (and an healthy dose of objectivity) who can speak about the emergence of a continental miracle, a New Africa. I spoke on, Social Enterprise in Africa: An Emerging Concept in an Emerging Economy. I enjoyed the session myself, and left for lunch after some extra minutes spent discussing with folks who had some more things to share, or questions to ask. Copies of the book, Global Process, Local Reality: Nigerian Youth Lead Action in the Information Society were made available to participants, and it was obvious that the Lagos Digital Village story was fascinating for the audience. I picked up some cool stuff myself. At lunch, we had the honour of listening to Steve Mariotti on the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), a social enterprise established in 1987 for the purpose of teaching youth to build businesses. I’m sitting in a session where Jim McClurg (Social Enterprise Alliance) and Kristin Majeska (Common Good Ventures) are discussing How to Write an Effective Business Plan.

Yoruba in Atlanta, and the “Don’t Go Back” Advice

Yoruba in Atlanta       Yoruba in Atlanta, again...

When I took a cab to the hotel on Monday afternoon, the driver looked too familiar for me not to be curious — but I was too tired to ask questions. The floor of his cab was littered with books, and it was obvious that driving was for him a second passion — accounting obviously is his first passion, as all the books revealed. A few minutes after the car took off, he popped the question I was longing to ask, “where are you from?” “Nigeria”, I replied, and of course, it was time to glance at his name plate — which revealed a name too Nigerian I didn’t have to bother asking. When I asked where he was also from, it was only natural that we would discuss for a few minutes. His meter was already on, so there was no way our new “friendship” would make any difference. 😉 He dropped me off at the hotel, I paid and he zoomed off. To my mind, I had seen a Nigerian and that was cool enough to prove the usual statement, “if you go to the moon, you’ll likely find a Nigerian there”.

Tuesday was mostly an online day for me (sorting out the backlog and enjoying the wireless access in my suite), but I had to step out in the evening for the first session of the meeting — along with registration. Either it was a wrong map, or the JJC in me was just playing up itsreal stature, I used the Sheraton building as a major landmark for my supposed “few minutes of walk”. After walking a few meters from the Sheraton I thought was the right one on my map, I discovered that either of the planners or map producers had made a mistake — or was it me? I saw two cab guys by the corner and knew they were the best people to ask. While asking the first man (in his late thirties or early forties), I thought I heard the other cab driver speak my local language, Yoruba. “Na wa o”, was what my thought sounded like. And just as I set out to move in the direction that Yemi (even though his name plate carried a very different name) advised, I heard my name, “‘Gbenga”. He called me back, explained that his colleague was also of the same tribe (Yoruba), and then he offered a free ride to Hyatt Regency.

During the twenty minutes we had together in the cab, we talked about almost everything Nigeria. Apparently an historian, he had written a thesis on why Nigeria could not become a better place. 🙁 He asked me, “which state are you from”. When I answred, “Ondo State (South West Nigeria”, he laughed and said, “which state in the US”. It was then I got the message: he wanted to know how I was faring in the US. I answered that I just got in. He said, “congratulations”, and when I told him when I was returning on Thursday, he literally shouted “why?” I explained that I was here to speak at a meeting but he was not impressed. He went on to explain why I shuldn’t make the same mistake his friend’s son made of returning to Nigeria and getting stuck after the 9-11 experience. To him, Nigeria would never become a better place because Western influence due to our natural resources would prevent a possible revolution that we desperately need.

He was well-spoken, sure of his thesis and fairly considerate of my “plight”. To him, my little brief on what my plans were and the need to have Nigerians deliberately change things within their sphere of influence was merely an untested theory that would fail over time. But in all, I’m glad he submitted that “if” the leadership question of Nigeria was solved, things would look up. However, he failed to admit that leadership was individual and would be provided by everyone as much as they could within their various spheres of influence. He admitted that he drove the cab when there were no academic projects (especially during the weekend) as a better option that allowed him to declare less than what he grossed annually (tax reasons and following some matrimonial issues that could cost him thousands of dolloars), and I’m glad we exchanged numbers so I can call him up when its time to call the Nigerians abroad back home — when the New Nigeria will be visible for everyone.

Our encounter meant a lot to me, and just shows the fact that we can not deny how much work needs to be done, but it will be done. Sacrifices will be made, hard work will be turned in, but we’ll get there. The journey is that of a thousand miles, and its already started. It may look like 2 miles is so short in a thousand-mile target, but it gradually gets closer to a thousand miles after consistent steps are taken even in the face of tired feet. Yemi hinted on some issues that would better stay off pages of blogs — naming names in the process — but his sentiment could have heightened the sadness in the facts. From the ashes of the ruins of today’s Nigeria will rise an enviable nation that many will seek to call home. The goal is clear — a New Nigeria — and the task is obvious — moving things from a terrile state to an enviable model. The good news is that when other nations will need to understand how Nigeria was able to spearhead the “African Miracle”, you and I — as professionals who are sowing our time and energy into the weaving of a New Nigeria — will be the consultants and story-tellers. Get ready to write, talk, sing and share The Nigeria Story… I see a New Nigeria.

Social Enterprise Speech in Atlanta

Speaking at the SEA Gathering in the next few days...

Over the next few days, I will be participating in the 7th Gathering of the Social Enterprise Alliance in Atlanta. I arrived on Friday evening and can now say that I’m 360 degrees ready for the meeting. I’ll be speaking on Wednesday, March 8, on “Social Enterprise in Africa: An Emerging Concept in an Emerging Economy”. Here’s the introductory opening of the presentation, and I’ll be sharing the entire content with you as soon as the meeting is over.

“Africa is a misunderstood continent. Unfortunately, much of the continent’s information that is available to the world is that of unfortunate leadership, conflicts, emigration, economic incompetence, health issues and more. But just like every other human, the average African is daily faced with the challenge of meeting his/her needs, and possibly using such to follow up interests within their sphere of influence. In every society, it is important to note the various roles played by stakeholders (government, the private sector, and civil society in the larger frame of its definition) in pursuing a community where human dignity is respected, and sustainable livelihoods assured. While it is important to state that Africa’s present socio-economic predicament needs a lot of deliberate efforts, I will deliberately focus on the role of civil society actors in their role as the mediator between the people (grassroots) and opportunities.

“This session seeks to discuss the role of the Social Enterprise paradigm in Africa – as an emerging trend in an emerging continent – and to discuss the value proposition of the idea of partnering with – or supporting – social entrepreneurs in Africa: those who are delivering value within developing economies but who are focused on people and development, rather than profit. The session will also consider possible follow-up mechanisms such as establishing a continuous bi-directional flow of knowledge and management expertise between the Social Enterprise Alliance members in North America (and beyond) and their colleagues in Africa. I hope that at the end of this session, you will have a better understanding of the Social Enterprise landscape in Africa, get updates (“facts from the field”) from Africa’s social entrepreneurs, and discuss practical networking concepts and opportunities.”

Speaking at the SEA Gathering in the next few days...

I have wireless access from this room (don’t be scared, I’ll still find time to sleep) and guess it’d be the same from the venue, so blogging will be no issue from here. I particularly appreciate the fact that I’ve been able to rest and reconnect with friends (see picture above, with Yomi Fasalojo and Dele Aluko) over the last few days, look forward to the Gathering, and can’t wait to get back to Nigeria. On Saturday, March 11, Fifth Gear Consulting’s seminar will hold in Lagos and I’ve been thinking about what to say over the last few days. 🙂 As soon as I arrived at the airport on Friday, I had a better sense of what to speak on: The Blessing of Curses: Emergence of a New Generation of Leaders for the Nigerian Nation. I look forward to the experience myself… oops, you’re supposed to be in Atlanta. Okay, I’m back.

Talk to you soon…

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