Madam Minister, It’s Time To Connect The Dots!

BarCamp Nigeria 2009

BarCamp Nigeria 2009 (Photo by Edward Popoola)

No doubt, Nigeria’s ICT sector is making progress. You need to discuss with various sections of the community (media, government, private sector, civil society, interest groups, etc) and you’ll be surprised that the sad image that often comes out loudest isn’t telling the whole truth about Nigeria. I am involved in a number of multistakeholder projects that have been making significant impact with target communities and also know of many plans that are in the works. If you were at BarCamp Nigeria on Saturday, April 25 — or if you followed via Twitter, NaijaPulse, FaceBook or Roomatic — you would have paused to appreciate the volume of effort that young Nigerians are putting into the emergence of a globally competitive Nigeria! Techies, technopreneurs, enthusiasts and others converged under one roof and spent the day laying a foundation that the organizers may not even appreciate it’s depth until the structures grow on it. Trust me when I say that there’s huge interest on the development of the industry in Nigeria, thanks to our position as a huge market and human capital base — otherwise, someone would have to explain all the international book projects, media interviews, documentaries, research interests, business prospects, etc, that I’ve had to attend to especially in the last 2 months!

However, there is a huge difference between segmented progress and networked growth. While there are obvious efforts from various sectors, it is time to connect the dots. The world over, it is obvious that government plays a major role in providing leadership for all sectors (at least that explains why governments have been discussing bail-outs since we drove our economies into a ditch due to false foundations) and the same must be done by the tip of the arrow in Nigeria. Even if the presidency has failed to take advantage of the hard work done by the Task Force it set up in 2006, the onus lies on the Ministry of Information and Communication to build on what its agencies and other stakeholders are churning out. While it is true that some are only ideas (good and/or bad) and some have remained ideas for a while, we can’t discount the shinning efforts across board. Even if some of them are supposedly driven by self interest, I have no problems with enlightened self-interest which helps the initiator achieve his/her aim (political, business, social, etc) but also ensures that the beneficiaries are not left out. My respect for the minister in charge of Nigeria’s ICT sector has been expressed at various times but I think it’s high time someone asked her to please recognize the gold mine she’s not giving the better part of her attention.

While rebranding (I leave the efficiency of the adopted means to the experts) may be a great idea, I think the ICT sector is now like an abandoned baby getting second-rated attention! We need a coordinated effort to release the tucked-away fragrance of Nigeria’s ICT space — which, by the way is not domiciled in Nigeria alone but spreads its tentacles across various continents where Nigerian-born experts are waiting for the green light to add value. Having said that, it is important to say that leadership needs great followership to make sense and that means we need to kick-start self-organization that will leave the government no choice but to recognize that while we’ve chased resources below the soil for too long (it’s been a long time since Oloibiri), it’s time to pay attention to the huge resource we have above the ground — human capital best helped by the opportunities that ICTs provide. Some nation states in the Gulf region have used their oil deposit to paint (almost overnight) a clear picture of their global competitiveness in the 21st century and we have no other excuse from the bag. The other day, one of my mentors (Engr. Titi Omo-Ettu) called for ICT to be a major campaign agenda in 2011, and I agree with that 100%. Let me quickly give some advice to those who are already asking their speech writers for the buzz words in ICT: it’s not about promise, we demand delivery!

Asking for the connection of the dots is not calling for another forum to discuss, or the creation of a Task Force; it is an invitation to engage the active stakeholders while also addressing the key things that have been seen as our friction-generators: power, access and networked manpower. We need our laptops on through day and night so we can keep delivering on the change we love, and it is a shame that service providers are closing shop because of unbearable cost of power. Let’s face it, Nigeria’s outsourcing potentials are fast fading off because of this, among others. While we trust that 2009 will offer the change we’ve been expecting in terms of the provision of broadband service and commend the Nigerian Communication Commission’s continued effort in this area, the need to keep our manpower behind the wheels require urgent attention. Much of Nigeria’s youthful ICT manpower remain isolated in their various locations, tapping away at the keyboard and hoping to add some amount of luck to their undeniable hard work. Some have been lost to other industries that have no need of their ICT expertise (but at least pay their monthly bills), others are working in the wrong direction already (exploiting the negative use of their skills online through cybercrime) and some have since started paying rent in other countries.

Nothing creates energy as much as focused leadership with the appropriate body language! As a nation, we are at an opportune time when various forces can align for our good: evident hard work, youthful energy, ICT enthusiasm, global interest, interesting ideas, small-scale networking, etc. If we miss the opportunity to connect the dot now, we will be delaying the opportunity to fix many problems (unemployment, youth unrest, heavy dependence of oil, absence on the global stage, and maybe deportation headlines, among others). In fact, this is one great way to rebrand Nigeria! Imagine how much news will travel when we give India, Malaysia and others a run for their money, code for code! We won’t need to pay for adverts and special mentions on global news networks because our every step will be breaking news. As a personal committment towards connecting the dots, I will ensure that this reaches major players in the sector – from the on-the-ground young force that is shaping Nigeria’s Web 2.0 space to the public administrators whose duty it is to make sure that the wheel of progress isn’t stopped by bureaucracy or limitations that can be taken out of the way.

Madam Minister, it is time to connect the dots!

Update: This piece has now been published on the Technology Times website, in CyberschuulNews (May 9, 2009 edition) and in the MoneyWISE Newspaper (May 18, 2009 edition)

Posted in Uncategorized

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-04-26

  • BarCampNigeria ends on an interesting note, it’s been a great day! #
  • Second panel is discussing Mobile Technology. Reasons to go mobile: Mobile phone to Computer ratio in terms of number and growth. #bcnigeria #
  • I’m not worried about ‘copying’ ideas (legally) as long as it’s part of a process: Ignore > Use > Copy > Contextualize > Innovate #bcnigeria #
  • I’m back at BarCamp Nigeria, where Microsoft West Africa’s N’Dee is discussing Web 2.0 #bcnigeria #
  • Assignment delivered at the seminar at The Leadership Centre. Making my way back to BarCamp Nigeria… checking updates at #
  • Interesting break-out session topics! @barcampnigeria, can we possibly ensure that at least one person tweets from each person? Thanks 😉 #
  • Leaving for the “Nigeria: The Challenge, The Change, The Champion” seminar ( in 12 minutes, but will be back to BarCamp. #
  • Practical experience from the panel: Start even if it’s unpopular. Make noise. Get better. Build ‘Trust Capital.’ Be consistent! #bcnigeria #
  • A child will never learn to walk by sitting still and waiting to “be able to walk”. Stand up, walk and learn on the go. #bcnigeria #
  • “Realizing Nigeria’s Internet potential” panel in progress with @edwardpopoola, @justinhartman, @startupsnigeria and @gbengasesan #bcnigeria #
  • @yinkuze Justin say’s at the moment #adgator is the active revenue but corporate reporting is a key model as well as premium services #
  • Justin is taking questions, does anyone following virtually have any? #bcnigeria #
  • Justin Hartman speaking about Afrigator. Critical growth factors: Passion, Innovation, Exposure, “Luck” (increases with hardwork) #bcnigeria #
  • BarCampNigeria kicked off a few minutes ago. I bet many of the fingers in this room are twittering #bcnigeria. Enjoy the tweets/pulses. #
  • If you feel the ‘information overload’, then you should read my new blog post, “@#!: Managing the Information Overload.” #
  • Twitter. FaceBook. eMails. Blogs. News. Information Overload!!! How do you manage all the overload and ride the waves? Tomorrow on my blog. #
  • Read my new blog post, “Lost in London,” at #
  • Thanks to @alukome, you can follow Saturday’s re-run elections in Ekiti State, Nigeria, on twitter (@ekitirr). Great sign for 2011, I think. #
  • @atadewunmi And I guess we owe you and the rest of the team a lot of thanks for making it happen! It’s time to tie the knots and get better. in reply to atadewunmi #
  • @LesleyAgams It’s an ad-hoc gathering of people who want to share and learn in an open environment. Everyone is a speaker and a participant. in reply to LesleyAgams #
  • I look forward to speaking at the T.E.A.M. seminar ( and networking at BarCamp Nigeria ( on Saturday! #
  • 15 great minutes! Discussed the future of social media in Nigeria with @NaijaPulse’s @yinkuze. It’s time to spell Appropriate Innovation! #
  • The world loves underdog stories. Stop crying about what could be the beginning of a breath-taking story! Want proof? See #
  • I’m so excited about the PIN/Microsoft anti-cybercrime campaign ( Ambassadors are cooking/delivering interesting projects #
  • A special day to celebrate the women in my life: the first anniversary of The Surprise ( for Temi! And my mum’s birthday! #
  • @yinkuze I’ll be back in London on Friday, but it’ll be a pass-through; I’ll be on my way straight to Heathrow so I can join @BarCampNigeria #
  • @boso Interesting. The church is even on twitter! My kinda church 😉 Following now, so I can check event dates with my travel plans. in reply to boso #
  • @Hillsong church (Dominion Theatre, London), I’ll be back! There’s nothing as beautiful as stopping everything else and just worshipping God #
  • Our decisions are the best mirrors for the face of our future, and it’s great to have one ready before – or during – our transition moments. #

@#!: Managing Information Overload

You must have heard of Susan Boyle and her competition, 12-year-old Shaheen Jafargholi. I bet you also followed the twattle (did you ask if that meant ‘twitter battle’?) between CNN and Ashton Kutcher. You knew when Barack got a book gift from Hugo Chavez and you’re probably sure you know South Africa’s next president. I won’t be surprised if you also know the exact number of friends you have! We clearly live in interesting times, and no one can deny the fact that we are exposed to much more information that at any other time in history. That’s right, it’s why we refer to it as the Information Age. And if you found out that you had actually set up an account while trying to sign up for a new web service, you are not alone. Welcome to the club! In fact, when you log out on your desktop at work, you work the blackberry on your way to the car park and the laptop is waiting for your rushing hands (and roaming fingers) at home.

The question on most minds today is how anyone can get any work done with all the information that is directed at you. Even if you move away from the internet, news channels on TV welcome you with open arms. And to make it worse, your mentor asked if you had read the new book! While information can be very empowering, it can also grind your walk to a halt if you don’t manage the overload properly. Imagine what would happen if you spent time with your eMail, did some little FaceBooking, responded to the LinkedIn messages, caught up on your favourite blogs, scrolled through online newspapers, gave a few minutes to Twitter, did some twittering from your brain (seriously, see… and you wonder why the day rolls by so fast these days? No thanks to the mobile phone that won’t even stay silent — and you can’t leave it behind because it has all your appointments listed.

On-the-job productivity does not have to go down while your information intake goes up. How to manage the overload is what I hope to share in as few paragraphs as possible (so I don’t add too much more to the information you have to process today). So, let’s get to the 6 tips that keep me — and many others — ahead of the looming overload.

  1. Push and Pull Deliberately
    If you don’t deliberately push and pull the information that you want, you’re waiting to be flooded. Push information by adding content to the web too, and pull information from carefully selected sources. What takes most time is when you follow hyperlinks in an unorganized way. For example, I choose my news updates from specific alerts, eMails, blogs and websites — and I make sure I limit the number of secondary links I follow. What I’ve also learnt from pushing information out is that people direct you to more specific sources when they notice what your focus is. More on focus later.
  2. Create a Funnel
    Note that noise is different from information, so create a funnel to help you seperate the chaff from the wheat. You may choose to indulge yourself when you’re ahead on your schedule, but ensure that you take advantage of subscription services provided by your carefully selected websites and blogs. You can also create alerts using such services as Google Alerts or set up TweetDeck which allows you have a quick scroll-through of Twitter/FaceBook updates on a single page (and you can now post to both services from TweetDeck on your desktop.) Personally, I use NaijaPulse as my primary update channel — and it’s linked to my Twitter page, which then broadcasts updates to FaceBook, this blog (see the right sidebar) and my website (see left frame).
  3. What’s Your Online Agenda?
    If there’s a central secret to managing information overload, this must be it! Your online agenda cannot be divorced from your life’s agenda, so it helps to know what exactly you’re doing on earth so you can define better what you’ll be doing on the web. Does that mean you’ll be tied to that space? No, but it help you know when you get lost. Imagine a football match on a field without goal posts. Remember the time you had a deadline and wanted to squeeze 5 minutes of FaceBook time in but you ended up with a not-so-nice presentation. “Why can’t anyone just understand how busy I am, jeez!” Really?
  4. Control Search Results
    Because information travels so fast these days, you also need to be sure that what the world reads about you is close to your best foot forward. If you’ve never Googled your name, you should probably take a break to do that now. Have you? Welcome back. And for those who do it everyday, isn’t that a bit too much? 🙂 Many people have found out that the information that search results throw up about them are scary. While you obviously can’t dictate what is thrown up each time your name is Googled, you can at least have a say. How about a personal website or blog with your own name? That is always a winner with search engines, and it’ll at least show the world your preferred information before they see the unguarded statement you made while in elementary school. By the way, the rule of the web is: “If you don’t want it showing up everywhere, don’t put it anywhere online – eMail, blog, website, comment on another blog, anywhere”. It also helps if you set up profiles on Google, MySpace, Wikipedia, YouTube, LinkedIn, FaceBook, Tweeter, NaijaPulse, Xing, etc, even if you’ll never use them. They are very dear to the heart of search engines, trust me. Proof? Search for ‘Gbenga Sesan in any search engine.
  5. Give Time to New Knowledge
    While I agree that there’s no time, I also think it’s important that you create time to catch up with new knowledge. How much we pay for a service is clearly proportional to our level of ignorance in that subject area. I can’t forget how much some friends paid to open hotmail or yahoo accounts in 1999! You can use technology (or innovation) sections of popular global magazines or newspapers — or set up an alert for technology or innovation.
  6. The Pipe will be Flooded
    I’m already taking so much of your time, so let me bring this to a close. Warning: more projects are underway, so get ready. We all got caught up in the FaceBook frenzy and almost all your friends are now on Twitter (which means you’ll soon get an account). Trust me, many labs across the world are coming up with services that will soon call for your attention. Don’t say I didn’t tell you when you get close to spending all morning on various websites and then wonder why everyone’s going on lunch break when you’re yet to tick off the first to do item of the day.

Lost in London

I am very drawn to large cities. Having lived majority of my growing up years in very quiet Nigerian cities like Akure, Idoani and Ile-Ife (a university town that only got noisy when students raised the tempo a bit), loving the first taste of the chaos that Lagos threw at me during my first visit was quite a surprise. But that connection has manifested itself each time I find myself in a busy city: at home in Lagos or away in London, Cairo, New Delhi or New York. Maybe it’s the unplanned rythm of voices or the beauty of seeing how each person in a crowd can be so focused on their own agenda. Could it be the expectation of running into someone I know, somehow, or the fact that large cities present a central metaphor of life best captured by William Shakespeare in his 17th century comedy, As You Like It:

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances…

That metaphor came to life again last week as Temi and I made our way through London’s Mind the Gap zones, after my amazing meeting with the staff at Ashoka‘s London office. The breath of the crowd was heavy, as thick as the variety that jumped at you from each face that either walked or literally ran past. Dressed in various garbs, I couldn’t help wonder what role each person played on the stage. No doubt, some were only ticking another day off the calendar while some others were in search of anything to give each day a unique meaning. Unfortunately, some are so busy trying to live that they fail to realise that they’ve now become mere statistics – just another one of earth’s 6.77 billion occupants whose presence on the stage is not different from that of those who have already exited.

We need to stop and reconnect with the dreams, activities and values that confirm that we add value to the stage before the inevitable exit. I couldn’t help thinking to myself: “how many of us in this crowd have lost our bearing in life and are actually Lost in London, only taking each moment as it presented itself.” Not just in London, or even in the major cities that clearly allow you see the daily mad rush, but everywhere. It will be a shame if we just wade through life only to find out close to our exit (and that does not necessarily mean death) that all we did was attempt to make all else but ourselves happy. Truth is that those who find the hapiness of playing unique roles on the stage of life are best equipped to make others happy. You can’t give what you don’t have, and I love the way an Igbo proverb puts it: “a naked man can not put his hand in his pocket.”

My Reply to X’s eMail may be useful follow-up reading even though he wasn’t Lost in London, I met X in Lagos.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Reply

Call for Papers Seminar on Youth and Cyber crime

Young Activists Initiative Nigeria (YAIN) in collaboration with Microsoft Internet Safety, Security and Privacy Initiative Nigeria (MISSPIN) is organizing a seminar on Youth and Cyber crime to be held on May 23, 2009 in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria.

The Seminar would cover the following presentation topics:

  • Cyber crime and Youth
  • Alternatives to Cyber crime
  • Youth as Development Actors
  • How youths can contribute to Re-branding Nigeria.

Each paper should be able to state specific and practical components as it relates to youth.

Criteria for selection will include:

  • Originality
  • Practicable
  • Level of application by youth

Interested youth leaders should send papers in any of the topics listed above.

Paper format: MS Word or Power Point

Deadline for submission of papers is May 01, 2009.

Papers would be reviewed till 9th May, 2009 and selected persons would be contacted from May 11, 2009.

Please note, presenters are to bear cost of travel.

Please provide the following information when you submit your paper:

  • Name:
  • Date of Birth:
  • Phone Number:
  • Contact:
  • E-mail:
  • Short biography about yourself.

For more information, contact: youngactivists [at] or call +234 802 249 37 98.

Posted in Uncategorized