Dream Come True!

The ATV, courtesy AIM Consultants

Her name is Hauwa and she’s a dream come true!

I have heard and read about the Abuja Technology Village like many others but a meeting with the young and dynamic manager of the project has added a huge chunk to my belief in the role Nigeria will play over the next few years — especially through the opportunities that ICTs provide. I met Hauwa through Aminu (another example of a fine young Nigerian who is strategically positioned to add value to the Nigerian project) and I now understand why he sent that first FaceBook message.

My passion for the establishment of incubators that can allow young entrepreneurial minds to focus on converting smart ICT-driven business or social ideas into successful businesses isn’t hidden. At every opportunity, I have argued that the way forward for developing economies with such limitations as ours would be to groom the many ideas that end up behind counters — and by that I refer to the many entrepreneurs who have ended up as tellers in banks. Just imagine how many potential Google owners are busy waiting for end-of-day as I write this. How many more potential Globacoms are waiting for pay checks because their attempt at entrepreneurship was finger-burning.

I know how tough it is to ride the weather — and I still am, by the way — but I also know that if there was a place where young people could walk into for the purpose of developing their ideas into businesses without the worry of huge bills (administrative, facility, and the many usual suspects), the principles of a truly free enterprise system will play out. And Nigeria will be better for it, moving from a nation that produces job-seekers to one that produces entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs (those who bring entrepreneurship dynamics to an idea that is not necessarily theirs).

After discussing the ambitious Abuja Technology Village (ATV) project, the now-running African University of Science & Technology (strategically located next to the ATV) and the role of youth in transforming Nigeria, Hauwa launched into the role ATV is playing in making my dream — and that of many others — come true. With a meticulous plan to start an incubation program that will grow from their present Central District office into their massive space close to the Abuja airport, she explained how the program will work and led a tour around the impressive facilities. Next week, the first set of “tenants” will be interviewed and I personally look forward to the first 6 weeks of this grand idea!

Hauwa is another reason why I keep telling young Nigerians that the army of New Nigerians is gaining strength. These young people who believe in Nigeria and are working hard at her growth are my dream come true! Aluta continua, victoria ascerta!

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Announcing the 5th Annual Nigerian Youth Leadership Awards

Committed to showcasing the amazing efforts of young people and their impact on communities across Nigeria, LEAP Africa is proud to announce the 5th Annual Nigerian Youth Leadership Awards. Funded by Nokia and supported by the International Youth Foundation, these awards will recognize outstanding young Nigerians who have initiated change projects in their communities.

The objectives of the 5th Annual Nigerian Youth Leadership Awards are:
(i) To identify young people in Nigeria who have initiated change projects that are focused on improving the lives of others.
(ii) To encourage and support these young people in their efforts
(iii) To showcase their impact on local communities and to demonstrate that the youth can effectively serve as change leaders in Nigeria

Application Criteria
Applicants must:
a. Be between 18 and 30 years old
b. Have played a leadership role in creating positive changes in their local communities in one of the following areas: Business and Economic Development, Environment, Education, Law and Human Rights, Health, Media, Arts and Culture, and Science and Technology.
c. Be able to show tangible evidence of impact
d. Demonstrate that their initiative has potential for growth or further replication
e. Demonstrate high-levels of integrity and the willingness to serve as role models for other youth

The Award
Ten outstanding youth will be selected for recognition during a nationally publicized event that will be held on November 20th 2008 in Lagos. Winners will also receive cash awards of up to Sixty thousand Naira (N60, 000), to support their projects in local communities across the country.

Application Process
Applications can also be downloaded or completed at LEAP Africa’s website at: http://www.leapafrica.org/downloads.asp All applications should be returned to LEAP Africa office at 13 Omorinre Johnson Street, Off Admiralty Way, Lekki Phase 1, Lekki Peninsula, Lagos or by post to P.O. Box 75427, Victoria Island, Lagos or via email to Oje Ivagba at: oivagba@leapafrica.org before June 30th, 2008.

Please note that only finalists will be notified, and you can contact LEAP Africa for more information:

LEAP Africa
13 Omorinre Johnson Street, Off Admiralty Way, Lekki Phase 1, Lekki Peninsula, Lagos
P.O. Box 75427, Victoria Island, Lagos
Telephone: 234-1-2706541/2
Email: info@leapafrica.org
Website: www.leapafrica.org

Honbe /four Overtake

Honbe /four overtake

It took me — and everyone else in the car — about 2 minutes before we figured that out too! If you haven’t, I promise to reveal the fun side of road travel in a few minutes.

The team of three (Dr. Seyi Adebayo-Olubi, Femi Aladejana and I) left for Ile-Ife quite early so we could arrive in time for our 1pm meeting. The discussions for a collaboration between Paradigm Initiative Nigeria and some research centres at the university — to host a planned workshop tagged Research with Industry Relevance — ended at about 3pm and we then started on our way back to Lagos.

The journey went on well until we were about to pull over for late lunch as we entered the ancient city of Ibadan. Just ahead, in that characteristic traffic situation that has bedeviled the road that leads into Ibadan from Ife, the truck was pulling its weight and scaring everyone ahead of it in the jam. While trying to decide if I should follow my impulse to unearth the major headline being paraded by the vendor, we saw the inscription on the truck: Honbe /four Overtake.

How does one read that? “Honbe /four Overtake” read like a strange language until Dr. Seyi said, “Horn before overtake.” Even though that in itself is a terrible way to put the sentence, the truck owner’s message was clear — don’t attempt a fast one from the rear! But the problem is, by the time you probably figure out what the inscription said, you would have disobeyed the instruction. We laughed our way into the parking lot until other scenes played out in that never-boring city of countless brown roofs.

It is not uncommon to see funny messages inscribed on trucks in Nigeria, but some just stand out. I pulled out the camera and thanks to attempts by Dr. Seyi and Femi (and our driver’s cooperation), we got the shot you see above. How about this too: “Oluwa lo ni emi mi, awon sisi lo ni body me” which translates to mean “God owns my soul but my body belongs to the ladies.”

They come in various shades of laughter-provoking expression — from the outright language error to the type you can only laugh about alone — but whatever you do, please make sure that when driving, you “Honbe /four Overtake.”

Yes, You Can!

Original post by Ejowewe (http://temiladeagbaje.blogspot.com)

June 6, 2008
Yes, You Can!

We all know now that’s a winning line :). Over the past year and a half, the phrase has been sounded by a single man as a message of change, of hope rising… Last Tuesday we saw that hope begin to take on the semblance of reality, as Senator Barack Obama became the first African-American in history to lead a U.S. major-party ticket when he claimed the Presidential nomination for the Democratic Party. I’m happy for America. But this is entirely about Nigeria.

If you’re a Nigerian like me, how many times have you wished there was something you could do to change your country? Most of us are eager for change, but all too often that enthusiasm is quickly dampened by a feeling of helplessness over not being able to make a difference from where we are. Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN) is a non-profit organisation that has refused to be bound by the limits and, as the name suggests, has consistently worked to create a new paradigm among Nigerians. Realising that the promise of Nigeria is in her people, PIN works with government, civil society, private institutions and international organisations to connect Nigerian youth with brighter futures via Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). For thousands of Nigerians, PIN’s work makes the difference between mediocrity and significance, between poverty and sufficiency, between destitution and hope. PIN’s objective is to change the future of Nigeria, one person at a time.

Since its days as an online network in 2001, PIN has successfully executed several projects, details of which can be found at www.pin.org.ng/old/index.php. More recently, PIN began a revolutionary project called Ajegunle.org (see www.ajegunle.org), a relay training programme in which young people from Ajegunle (yes, Ajegunle!) are empowered with ICT and entrepreneurial skills that will enable them break the cycle of poverty in which they’re enmeshed. Ajegunle.org has received tremendous media coverage and has been presented in various fora across the world (Uganda, Ethiopia, Egypt, United Kingdom and Switzerland) as a case study on how ICTs can be used to aid development in under-served communities. For more insight into the success story of Ajegunle.org, please visit http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-14359 to watch a brief descriptive documentary courtesy of Nigeria International.

You can support the awesome work PIN is doing by making a financial contribution via debit or credit card at www.pin.org.ng. With the click of a button, you can begin to change Nigeria one life at a time. You can also make donations by cheque, if that’s a more convenient means for you. Please make all cheques payable to Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, and send to any one of the addresses below:

Attn: ‘Gbenga Sesan
Paradigm Initiative Nigeria
18 Akinbola Street
Ilupeju 100252

Friends of PIN UK
c/o Temilade Agbaje
Institute for Science and Society
Law and Social Sciences Building
University of Nottingham NG7 2RD
United Kingdom.

If you prefer to pay by cash, please send an email stating your intention to laxta1@nottingham.ac.uk, and payment details will be sent to you.

As a Friend of PIN, I have witnessed first-hand lives being transformed for good through initiatives like Ajegunle.org. Working as a volunteer with the first set of Ajegunle youth in August 2007, I had the opportunity to catch a glimpse into the hopes and dreams of those young Nigerians. Speaking with them, I discovered they all had lofty ambitions buried deep within them; ambitions their circumstances had erstwhile forbidden them to pursue. The coming of Ajegunle.org re-ignited their buried dreams, causing them to dare to hope again, to believe that they can be whatever they want to be. A certain young man on the programme told me that he saw in me what he’s always wanted to be, and to this day I have the honour of being a mentor to him.

The Ajegunle.org experience made me realise that change in Nigeria against all odds is indeed possible. It made me realise that change in Nigeria against all odds depends on me. Can you be part of this change? Yes, you can. Will you be?

Konrad Zuse ICT Scholarships

The so-called digital divide may mean people in developing countries are excluded from important global processes and cannot use new and resource-saving technologies and products. As a result, their productivity by international standards may decline and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals be jeopardized.


With its Konrad Zuse Scholarship Programme the German Government hopes to help narrow the digital divide. The Programme is intended to enable young entrepreneurs from developing countries to successfully start up an information and communications technology (ICT) business in their home countries.

Scholarship benefits
Konrad Zuse scholarships are worth 1200 euro a month and granted for up to one year. This sum is intended to cover all expenses incurred in Germany for medical insurance, accommodation, food etc. In addition the German Government meets the cost of air travel for one return trip to Germany per beneficiary. For all beneficiaries individual training plans are drawn up tailored to their specific requirements as well as the sector in which they intend to start up their business. The training includes an academic component as well as internships
in German companies active in the same sector as the prospective start-up.

Requirements for applicants

Applicants should have a university degree in informatics or a related field. Where deemed appropriate, this requirement may be waived for applicants with several years’ experience in the ICT industry. Applicants must have a good knowledge of English.

Application procedure
Applicants should submit to the German Embassy a business plan outlining what kind of business they intend to start up and how they propose to finance it as well as their degree certificate and curriculum vitae. Those with the best ideas will be sent a questionnaire to fill out giving further details of their business plan. The final selection will be made on this basis.

Deadline for applications
Applications must reach the German Embassy by 25 July 2008:

Attaché for Economic & Development Affairs Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany
9 Lake Maracaibo Close, off Amazon Street Maitama, Abuja
Phone: 09-4130962
Fax: 09-4130949
Internet: www.abuja.diplo.de, wi-1@abuj.auswaertiges-amt.de

Dreams of My Colleagues

When he walked in to say “congratulations,” I could tell he was announcing Barack Obama’s victory in the race towards clinching the democratic party’s ticket for the November contest. I’m not an American, but the news came like cold water to a thirsty soul — and it arrived during the calmness that followed last night’s rain here in Lagos. Barack Obama has now made history as the first African American to get this close to becoming the “leader of the free world.” And if I should go by the same feeling I had when the primaries commenced, we now know who’ll be the most talked-about man after November.

I’ve been in so many discussions about the emergence of the “skinny young man with a funny name” but the most interesting part is when someone who thought he couldn’t win the nomination claims the only reason I support him is because he’s black. I’m not black. Depending on which part of my body you look at, I have a few colours to offer — black, brown, white, grey, colourless, etc. I supported Obama’s bid from the beginning because of his story. I assume that sales would be on the high side for his two books now that he’s moved from unknown to fairly known, then to better known. The title of this piece is (obviously) an adaptation of the title of one of his books.

Born to an African father and American mother, raised without a silver spoon, made up his mind early about where his life’s direction is headed… those come very close to the story you’ll get from any underdog who was probably told by his teacher or her environment that success didn’t have their names on the list! A few days before Barack’s many moments of opportunity (one of which is the popular 2004 Democratic Party convention speech), I’m sure there were those who told him, “what’s wrong with you and what are these rumours of a presidential bid I hear?” Well, this is a good lesson for my colleagues who’re going through and have been told — by the various systems they contend with — that they aren’t up to the task. Nonesense, only one person can say that, and I doubt that you’ve done so already.

Against all odds, dreams do come true. It’s funny how Obama’s polispeak employs the word “we” and “us” more than “I” and “me,” and I think it’s just apt – it’s not only his dream that his getting closer to being true… ours too. And by ours, I refer to those who’ve been told that their challenge of the status quo would only amount to an attempt, to those whose big ambitions have been questioned by those who should nurture such, and those whose next plan appear to be bigger than the frame they presently occupy. But Obama’s victory didn’t fall on his laps! A few days after it appeared the race was his to lose, one of the most popular features on his campaign talked about the power of the team he works with. Dreams come true, but you get better help when you’re with the right team.