I Was Young…

I have had the opportunity of being young for a long time, having been referred to as youth by many people who knew me as the Information Technology Youth Ambassador – and some of them actually decided to freeze my age. But, reality is that I’m not as young as I used to be, and many other things have also changed. For example, I have come to sharpen my involvements (then in numerous projects) and now have a few dedicated efforts that will helpfully help with the major objective of helping individuals, corporations, nations and others to understand and benefit from the role of ICTs in development.

At Generis Solutions (www.generissolutions.com), where I am partnering with a dynamic example of a young entrepreneur, the task is to build a model ICT-enabled institution that can help young African understand that it is better to create opportunities than to keep begging for one. Adeolu Akinyemi, an HR expert and long-time partner, is on the driver’s seat and we’re gradually inching closer to the dream. Generis Solutions has provided much-needed solutions for individuals and corporations, but the crowning thought is the role the company will play over the next few years in providing space for practical entrepreneurship support for young Nigerians, as a beginning. Soon, you will only need your idea, and the willingness to transform it into an economically viable venture, to sail through the waters of entrepreneurship in Nigeria. How about an enabling institution that provides a work-space which takes care of your office equipment, mentorship and resources? And this is not a political promise…

Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN), resident only at www.pin.org.ng until I resigned to resume full physical leadership of the social enterprise, is a direct response to the many needs that ICTs address. Focusing on consulting, research, telecentre support, youth-led social technopreneurship and capacity building, PIN is living the realities of the task of giving ICT4D a socially responsible economic face! Among other efforts at PIN today, the Creating Local Connections West Africa (CLCWA) project is creating opportunities for Nigeria’s youth – especially in the Niger Delta region to which our message is clear: “Smart resource control is not abaout guns and oil, but about the ability of each young person to look inwards and find the connection between his/her passion, skills and economic opportunities.”

Creating Local Connections West Africa (CLC WA) aims to realize the potential of youth and engage them as development actors in the improvement of their communities, countries, and region. CLC WA will achieve this through peer-led trainings, networking, national youth meetings, media creation, award processes, research and development of strategic use of information and communications technologies (ICTs) during its implementation in: Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, and Liberia. The project’s activities will run over a 12 months period, until March 2008. The ultimate project objective focuses on increased levels of issue awareness, leadership and entrepreneurship skill development, gender equality, information and communication technologies, economic accessibility, geographic accessibility and engagement and empowerment of the West African youth community.

CLCWA’s key activities will include online and printed resources on local youth opportunities; a monthly youth online and printed newsletter to reach out to the CLC West Africa project network; bi-monthly youth awards as an effort to recognize, reward and further encourage youth achievement; online global galleries, discussion boards, blogs, project and event pages as a central CLC-WA information-sharing space; a project-long ICT connectivity research that will provide useful information for other network ICT oriented initiatives; capacity building and content development for youth media organizations; practical, peer-led, skill-based workshops; regular issue-based ‘Open Forums’ and ‘National Youth Meetings’; transformation of each country CLC-WA team into a sustainable, independent group. The project concept was developed by TakingITGlobal and is sponsored, in the five participating countries in West Africa, by the Open Society Initiative for Western Africa (OSIWA).

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