AfricaKIDS IN AFRICA

Empowering Rural Schools: Emerging Communities Africa’s Digirural Makes a Difference at The Young Disciples Academy

At Emerging Communities Africa (ECA), we’re passionate about empowering communities and fostering a brighter future, especially in rural areas. That’s why we launched the Digirural initiative, focused on equipping schools with the resources they need to thrive.

Recently, our Digirural program had the pleasure of visiting The Young Disciples Academy in Idanre, Awokajola. We were welcomed with open arms by the enthusiastic students and dedicated faculty.

Equipping for Success

To enhance the learning environment at The Young Disciples Academy, ECA donated six whiteboards, markers, and a variety of other essential writing materials. These resources will not only improve the classrooms but also provide teachers with the tools they need to deliver engaging and effective lessons.

Beyond Donations: Inspiring Young Minds

Our visit wasn’t just about handing over supplies. Several ECA volunteers took the opportunity to interact with the students. They spoke about the importance of education, emphasizing how it unlocks a world of possibilities and empowers individuals to reach their full potential. The volunteers encouraged the students to be studious, asking questions, and embracing the joy of learning.

The smiles on the students’ faces and their eagerness to participate in the discussions were truly heartwarming. We hope our visit, along with the donated materials, will serve as a small spark that ignites a lifelong love of learning in these young minds.

Digirural: Building a Brighter Future

The Digirural initiative is just one of the many ways ECA strives to make a positive impact in rural communities. By providing educational resources and fostering a culture of learning, we hope to equip future generations with the knowledge and skills they need to build a brighter future for themselves and their communities.

Join Us in Making a Difference

Do you share our passion for empowering rural communities? If so, we encourage you to get involved with ECA’s initiatives. Whether through volunteering your time, donating resources, or simply spreading the word, you can help make a difference. Together, we can create a world where every child has the opportunity to succeed, regardless of their background.

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Bridging the Digital Divide: Emerging Communities Africa’s Digirural Initiative

In today’s world, digital literacy is no longer a luxury – it’s a necessity. Emerging Communities Africa (ECA) understands this, and that’s why we launched the Digirural Initiative, an ambitious program aimed at empowering children in rural communities across Africa starting with Akure, Ondo State, Nigeria with the skills they need to thrive in the digital age.

The digital divide is a harsh reality, with many rural areas lacking access to technology and the know-how to use it effectively. This leaves children at a significant disadvantage, hindering their educational opportunities and future prospects.

Digirural seeks to dismantle this barrier. Through a series of engaging outreach programs, we’ve been visiting schools in remote locations, bringing technology directly to the students. Our team of passionate volunteers conducts interactive workshops, introducing children to the basics of computers, the internet, and essential digital tools.

These workshops aren’t just about technical skills. We emphasize the importance of online safety, responsible digital citizenship, and how technology can be harnessed for learning and exploration. We want to spark a love for lifelong learning and equip these young minds with the confidence to navigate the digital world.

The impact of Digirural has been truly inspiring. We’ve witnessed firsthand the excitement and eagerness of children as they discover the potential of technology. Seeing their faces light up as they learn to create presentations, research online, or connect with others virtually fills us with immense satisfaction.

Digirural is not a one-time fix. We are committed to building sustainable change. We partner with local schools to ensure continued access to technology and resources.  We also train teachers on basic digital literacy skills, empowering them to integrate technology into their lesson plans.

Our journey has just begun. There are countless rural communities across Africa; Ondo state, Nigeria precisely where the digital divide persists. But with each outreach trip, with every child we empower, we inch closer to a future where every child has the opportunity to excel in the digital age.

Join us in bridging the digital divide!

Emerging Communities Africa is always looking for passionate volunteers and donors to support the Digirural Initiative. If you’d like to get involved, visit our website  to learn more. Together, let’s ensure that every child has the chance to unlock their full potential in a digital world.

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How media representations of gender can reinforce harmful stereotypes 

As the global 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence comes to an end, it’s crucial to examine the pivotal role the media plays in shaping our perceptions of gender. From movies and advertisements to news reports and social media, the media landscape significantly influences how we perceive masculinity, femininity, and the roles assigned to different genders. However, the impact of these representations is not neutral; rather, it often perpetuates harmful stereotypes that often reflects and reinforces harmful narratives that have real-world consequences.

One of the most concerning aspects of media representations are simplistic and often inaccurate portrayals of gender. Women are frequently portrayed as passive,  weak, and dependent, while men are depicted as strong, dominant, and entitled. These portrayals not only limit individual expression but also create unrealistic standards, leading to the normalisation of power imbalances and become justifications for discrimination, harassment, toxic behaviours within relationships  and even violence.

The hypersexualization of women and the objectification of their bodies  in the media is another troubling trend. Advertisements and entertainment often reduce women to mere objects of desire, emphasising physical appearance over intellect or character. This objectification not only dehumanises women but also normalises the idea that their worth is solely based on their looks, fostering a culture that enables harassment, assault, and discrimination.

The perpetuation of these stereotypes and biassed representations in media contributes to a culture that trivialises gender-based violence. When violence against women is normalised in movies, TV shows, or news reports, it desensitises audiences and minimises the severity of such acts. This can lead to victim-blaming mentalities or an attitude that downplays the seriousness of abusive behaviours.

However, the media isn’t solely a negative force. It can be a powerful tool for positive change. By promoting diverse and empowering representations of gender, media can challenge stereotypes, raise awareness, and inspire societal transformation. When media platforms showcase strong, independent women, supportive and emotionally intelligent men, and diverse gender identities, they contribute to a more inclusive and equitable society.

As consumers of media, we hold the power to demand change. By critically engaging with media content, supporting diverse representations, and holding media outlets accountable for their portrayal of gender, we can create a society where harmful stereotypes are shattered, and all individuals are valued and respected, regardless of their gender identity.

This is a call to action for media creators, consumers, and activists alike. Let us acknowledge the influence of the media on shaping societal attitudes and take proactive steps to challenge harmful stereotypes. By advocating for accurate, diverse, and respectful representations of all genders in media, we pave the way for a world free from gender-based violence and discrimination. Together, let’s amplify our voices and strive for a future where everyone, regardless of gender, can live free from fear and oppression.

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Volunteering as a Career Boost: How Giving Back Can Enhance Your Professional Development

Volunteering is an act of an individual or group freely giving time and labour, often for the benefit of others.  With busy lives, it can be hard to find time to volunteer. However, the benefits of volunteering can be enormous. Volunteering offers vital help to people in need, worthwhile causes, and the community, but the benefits can be even greater for you, the volunteer. The right match can help you to find friends, connect with the community, learn new skills, and even advance your career.

As we celebrate International Volunteers Day, let’s explore how volunteering can serve as a catalyst for enhancing your career through Tobi, Miriam and Basco’s story .

Professional Workplace Etiquettes and Skills Development

Volunteering offers a unique setting to cultivate and hone essential workplace skills. From communication and teamwork to leadership and problem-solving, volunteers often find themselves immersed in situations that require these skills. For instance, working in a team on a volunteer project can mirror dynamics found in professional settings, providing valuable experience in collaboration and conflict resolution.

Tobi’s Story: Tobi, an undergraduate, decided to volunteer at Akure Tech Hub, a Digital Innovation Hub  focused on social innovation and grassroots development. Through his volunteer work, he was entrusted with managing the subscribers at the co-working space. This experience allowed Tobi to refine his communication  and presentation skills, and develop a deeper understanding of community engagement and customer relationship —a journey that significantly bolstered his resume.

Networking with Industry Leaders

Volunteering can serve as a powerful avenue for networking with prominent figures in your industry. Whether it’s through industry-specific events, conferences, or community projects, volunteers often find themselves in close proximity to established professionals and industry leaders. 

Miriam’s Story: Miriam, a front-end engineer, volunteered at a series of tech communities to host conferences and events for the community. Her proactive involvement allowed her to engage directly with influential industry leaders who were speakers or sponsors at these events. Through volunteering, Miriam not only contributed to the success of these events but also established meaningful connections with industry experts, leading to mentorship opportunities and valuable insights that guided her developer  journey.

Gateway to Full-Time Roles and Networking Opportunities

Volunteering often serves as a bridge to full-time employment. Many organisations use volunteer programs as a talent pool, offering paid roles to dedicated and passionate volunteers. Moreover, volunteering presents excellent networking opportunities, allowing individuals to connect with professionals and expand their circle.

Basco’s Story: Basco, a designer, dedicated his free time to volunteer at a non-profit as a graphics designer, handling their social media and marketing designs. His commitment and expertise caught the attention of stakeholders within the organisation, leading to discussions about potential job openings. Basco’s volunteer experience not only secured him a full-time design role but also provided a network of industry contacts that proved invaluable throughout his career. Today, Basco works as the lead designer at the non-profit.

Asides from the career benefits listed above, here are some ways volunteering can also benefit you, the volunteer.

Provides a sense of community: Volunteering can help you feel connected to those you are helping in the community. This experience may make you want to get involved with other aspects of your community, such as local politics or advocating for programs you believe are important.

Helps you meet new friends: Volunteering is a great way to meet new friends as well as strengthen existing connections with friends, family or coworkers. As a volunteer, you’ll typically interact with people from diverse backgrounds, which allows you to learn other perspectives.

Improve  your social skills: Volunteering gives you a chance to talk to new people and sharpen your social skills  like active listening and relationship management.

Improves self-esteem: When you do something you feel is worthwhile and valuable for your community, it gives you a sense of accomplishment that may help you feel more fulfilled about your life and any future goals.

Teaches you valuable skills: The training and hands-on experience you gain while volunteering can help you learn new skills as well as build upon ones you already have. 

Gets you out of your comfort zone: Through volunteer work, you may overcome the personal challenges of leaving your comfort zone and doing something new with people you may not know.

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Bridging the Policy Gaps for an Inclusive Innovation Ecosystem

In Nigeria, certain policies  have negatively impacted the innovation ecosystem either directly or through implementation failures. Some of which include the ban on bike hailing platforms like Gokada, ban of fintechs from offering bank verification number validation services, ban on cryptocurrency etc. However, there are promising developments such as the introduction of the Nigeria Startup Act and the National Blockchain Policy, which have the potential to bring about positive changes in the innovation ecosystem. We will delve into these recent policies in the remaining part of this article.

One of the outcomes of the AfriConEU project is to produce a report that provides policy recommendations to be included in the blueprint for trans-continental collaborations in Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda. In line with this, on May 18th, 2023, Emerging Communities Africa (ECA), a partner on the AfriConEU project, organised a policy roundtable discussion at Enspire Hub in Abuja. The event, titled “Bridging the Policy Gaps for an Inclusive Innovation Ecosystem,” brought together African policymakers from various sectors, local DIHs, startups and other European policy experts to discuss and provide policy recommendations and implementation approaches. 

The event started with an introduction by Promise from Buni Hub, Tanzania, a member of the AfriConEU consortium; she provided an overview of the AfriConEU Project. During her presentation, she highlighted the upcoming boot camps that will take place in four African countries, as well as the capitalization event scheduled to be held in Europe later this year.

After Promise’s introduction, Peace Odili, the ED of ECA, gave a summary of the State of Play report, a research conducted in 2021 by ATBN in the four African ecosystems to draft  evidence-based policy recommendations for collaboration between these ecosystems. Peace presentation established the context for the discussions that followed with focus on the Nigerian ecosystem.

Nwanne Nwonwu Programs Coordinator(AfriConEU Project), ECA gave a summary of the The Nigeria Startup Act (NSA), which is aimed at ensuring that Nigeria’s laws and regulations are clear, planned and work for the tech ecosystem. She gave insight to some of the benefits that the act provides such as Startup labelling(for startups less than 10 years), Startup Investment Seed fund (a minimum of ₦10B annual fund for labelled/licensed startups), Regulation Support (to ease technology transfer),  Startup  Engagement portal (for interaction between startups and the government) and lots more.

Adraino Mauro from  DIGILOGIC a fellow member of the ICT-58 family  took the stage next and gave a 20 mins presentation on how DIGILOGIC is building bridges between the islands of innovation scattered across Europe and Africa to build the first Smart Logistic Pan EU-Africa Digital Innovation Hub (DIH) fostering a broad digital transformation in the African logistics sector.  His presentation highlighted some of the challenges these DIHs face including; 

(i) Heavy reliance on public funding, (ii) Hardship in retaining qualified staff as they are quickly  stolen by ICT industries, (iii) DIHs offer trainings that are too basic for the start ups and innovators needs, (iv) DIHs not offering test before invest services and (v) DIHs are yet to be specialised.

The final session was the panel discussion which featured Tracy Okoro –  State Adoption and Domestication Lead, Nigerian Startup Act, Anderson Emmanuel – Founder Mipple Technologies Limited, Olaoluwa Olorunnisomo – Co-founder, Seedbuilders Innovation Hub, Dr Ephraim Chukwuka Okejiri – Director, National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), and Hauwa Ibrahim Hadejia, Assistant Manager, Legal Enforcement and Regulations Unit, Nigeria Data Protection Bureau  (NDPB) and was moderated by Nwanne Nwonwu. 

The panel highlighted the existing disconnect between the government and startups, making it challenging for startups to thrive in Nigeria. To address this issue, the NSA team worked together to create policies that foster an enabling environment for founders and talents in the innovation ecosystem and the adoption process has started with 6 states in Nigeria already covered.

The panel also addressed the need to connect different ecosystems to facilitate the exchange of talents between them. Measures were discussed, including training and retaining the right talents through initiatives such as remote work, hourly charges, and milestone-based engagement rather than strict 9-5 working hours. It also stated that there is a  concentration of ecosystems in two major cities; Lagos and Abuja, and recommended that states establish their own ecosystems to engage talents within their regions and prevent migration to the major cities.

Another important topic discussed was the National Blockchain Policy that was recently announced by the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy (FMCDE) .  Mr Anderson stated that The blockchain policy is an important move by the government to accommodate blockchain innovation in the country after the ban on crypto, although there is still no clarity as to how the government intends to implement the policy.

Data privacy was also emphasised. The NDPB shared its efforts in developing a centralised database while simultaneously protecting distributed data in schools, banks, hospitals, and other sectors. They also highlighted the focus on providing data support for startups and facilitating cross-border data sharing. 

Mr Olaoluwa also discussed the recently announced $618 million tech fund to support the tech and creative sectors for young investors who struggle to raise capital launched by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo under the Investment in  Digital and Creative Enterprises (iDICE) programme. He stated that reaching out to the diaspora for early-stage startup investments will be a good way to raise funds for this cause and support tech4good.

The panel concluded by emphasising the need to map stakeholders beyond the tech ecosystem when implementing new policies, conducting public awareness campaigns about existing policies, making it mandatory for state-owned parastatals to engage in trans-continental partnerships bi-annually, and involving the people affected by the policies in the policy-making process. Implementation plans for policies were also emphasised as crucial for effective policy outcomes.

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The Technology Transfer Process

Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs) are at the forefront of technological advancement in today’s fast-paced world. As such, they play a crucial role in facilitating the transfer of technology from lab to the market. However, technology transfer is not without its challenges. That is why a workshop  was organized by Emerging Communities Africa (ECA) as part of the AfriConEU Networking Academy activities to help DIHs explore the concept of technology transfer, its benefits, and the legal framework in place to protect it. This workshop aimed to equip participants with the necessary knowledge and tools to navigate the complex world of technology transfer successfully. With the right approach, technology transfer can be a valuable tool for promoting innovation, economic growth, and development. In this article, we will delve deeper into the key takeaways from the workshop and explore the importance of technology transfer in today’s digital landscape.

The hybrid workshop took place on Friday, March 31st 2023 at Akure Tech Hub, Ondo State and featured and group discussion between participants and 2 keynote sessions taken by Olumbe Akinkugbe, Chairman of Ondo State Information and Technology Agency (SITA) and Kitan David, Founder of Future Academy Africa respectively. 

Olumbe Akinkugbe explained how technology transfer  is a critical component of innovation and economic development, as it allows organizations to leverage existing knowledge and expertise to create new products and services.  He also stated that technology transfer can take many forms, including licensing agreements, joint ventures, and research collaborations. The  goal of technology transfer is to take innovative ideas and turn them into tangible products and services that can benefit society.

He further went on to state 2 primary  drivers of technology transfer 

  1. The need for innovation. 
  2. The need for economic growth. 

In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, innovation is key to staying competitive. Organizations that fail to innovate risk falling behind their competitors and losing market share. By transferring technology, organizations can leverage existing knowledge and expertise to create new products and services that meet the needs of their customers.

Technology transfer can help create new businesses, jobs, and industries, which can contribute to economic growth and development. By transferring technology, organizations can create new products and services that generate revenue and create employment opportunities.

He rounded up the session by stating that technology transfer is a complex process that requires careful consideration of legal and regulatory issues. There are several legal frameworks in place to protect technology transfer, including intellectual property laws, export control regulations, and licensing agreements.

After his session participants gathered in 3 groups to discuss “the motivations and benefits of technology transfer” after the group discussion,  representatives from each group presented insights from their respective groups. Adedapo from group A stated that Improved standard of living through technology has helped make life easier. Esther from group B gave some benefits of technology transfer which includes Collaboration; Using the strength of a sector to build another, Commercialization and Industrialization, Knowledge dissemination, Innovation. Peace from group C said ”the importance of licensing cannot be overemphasized, if you have an idea, you must protect it in transferring such technology and the sustainability of the idea or product that is being involved in the process of technology transfer”.

To wrap up the workshop, Kitan David gave the final session on technology transfer mechanisms.  He focused on the impact of Artificial Intelligence(AI) in technology transfer and how organizations and individuals have to stay on the trend as it’s rapidly causing technology transfer waves in various industries. He also made mention of the need for documentation as documenting processes is key to recognizing room for technology transfer.

In conclusion, technology transfer is a critical component of innovation, economic growth, and development. It allows organizations to leverage existing knowledge and expertise to create new products and services that meet the needs of their customers. However, technology transfer is not without its challenges, and organizations must carefully consider legal, regulatory, and business issues when transferring technology. By doing so, organizations can successfully navigate the complex world of technology transfer and reap the benefits of this valuable tool. By the end of the workshop, participants had a comprehensive overview of the technology transfer process and were able to identify legal frameworks like NDAs, IP laws, Licensing agreements etc.  to protect technology transfer.

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Bridging the Gender Gap: How Women are Transforming the African Entrepreneurial Landscape

The startup ecosystem in Africa is currently thriving and poised for significant growth and success in the coming years. In the last half-decade, the ecosystem has achieved several significant milestones, including an increase in the number of female-led startups, business expansion to different regions, multi-million-dollar acquisitions and exits,etc. 

Despite the significance of these accomplishments in Africa’s startup ecosystem, there remains a lack of diversity in funding, particularly concerning female-owned startups, whose funding from domestic and international investors remains notably lower compared to male entrepreneurs. According to this piece from the big deal, female-led startups only received 4% of the total $4.8 billion invested in African startups in 2022. This amount  is 25 times less, compared to the funding that female-led startups received in 2021.

This article aims to acknowledge the accomplishments of female founders in different sectors in Africa and to explore the difficulties they encounter.

Let’s look at some female founders and their impact.

 

Ifedayo Durosinmi-Etti: 'Self-doubt is the biggest quencher of creativity' | The Guardian Nigeria News - Nigeria and World News — Guardian Woman — The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News

Ife Durosimi-Etti, CEO Herconomy 

Herconomy is more than a mobile savings app, it’s the largest community designed to give women access to the resources they need to thrive, switch up their money game and build the life they want. Herconomy currently has over 60,000 women savers who have saved over $100,000 in total and has plans to onboard unbanked women (those without bank verification numbers) to her community.

 

Using AI to fight cancer: an interview with Shamim Nabuuma Kaliisa, Founder and Executive Director, Chil Artificial Intelligence Lab | Business Insider Africa

Shamim Nabuuma Kaliisa, Founder CHIL AI Lab

CHIL  AI Lab is battling cancer with a range of impressive products and services, including non-invasive self-testing kits that utilise machine learning and AI to diagnose cervical and breast cancer and its AI-powered mobile app named Keti, that allows women consult with oncology experts, have samples collected and sent to laboratories,  have their test results interpreted and advised on what next steps to take. CHIL AI Lab self-testing kits are currently in use across 25 countries.

 

Tao Laine Boyle - Co-Founder - FoondaMate | LinkedIn

Tao Laine Boyle, co-founder FoondaMate

FoondaMate is an edtech startup that enables access to online learning for students via WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. FoondaMate currently has over 1 million users across the world and has helped thousands of students pass their exams through their AI powered bot.

 

Nicole Galletta | YourStory

Nicole Galletta, co-founder iProcure

iProcure is the largest agricultural supply chain platform in rural Africa connecting agricultural manufacturers and distributors to local retailers (agro-dealers), through its unique distribution infrastructure that interlinks agricultural supply chains.  It also provides business intelligence and data-driven stock management across the supply chains. It currently connects more than 5,000 agro-dealers to different manufacturers.

Although female entrepreneurs  in Africa have made progress, they still face several challenges when starting out.  Female entrepreneurs often struggle to secure funding for their businesses, with many investors preferring to invest in male-led startups and this limits their ability to scale their businesses. Cultural biases and stereotypes can make it difficult for women to succeed in traditionally male-dominated industries. Female entrepreneurs also find it difficult to get qualified personnel due gender bias. Additionally, female entrepreneurs often lack support networks and mentors, which can make it difficult for them to navigate the challenges of starting and growing a business.

However, the future of female entrepreneurs in Africa looks promising, as more and more successful female entrepreneurs are emerging and bringing new perspectives and approaches to traditionally male-dominated industries. To ensure the economy thrives, it is essential to support female entrepreneurs by helping them start their ventures, providing mentorship, access to finance, creating supportive environments, and promoting gender diversity and inclusion in all sectors of the economy. With the right support from government, non-government, and private sectors, female entrepreneurs have the potential to drive economic growth and create a brighter future for Africa.

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Building and Using a Network of Funding Sources

In the past years, there has been a growing focus on developing new funding models and leveraging existing networks to support innovative projects and startups in Africa. One of the main drivers of this trend has been the rise of digital innovation hubs, incubators and accelerators in Africa, which have helped to connect entrepreneurs and innovators with the resources and networks. Additionally, a number of new funding initiatives and programs have been launched in recent years, aimed at supporting the growth of small businesses and startups in Africa.

Despite these efforts, however, many entrepreneurs and innovators continue to face significant challenges when it comes to accessing funding and other resources to support their projects. This is why the workshop on “Building and Using a Network of Funding Sources” organized by Emerging Communities Africa (ECA) as part of the AfriConEU Networking Academy activities aims to provide valuable insights on how to identify and access funding sources, and how to build a sustainable partnership framework for innovative projects.

The workshop held on Thursday, January 26th, 2023, at The Nest Hub, Yaba, Lagos Nigeria and online via zoom and brought together a diverse group of individuals and organizations in academia, business and government, all of whom were interested in learning more about how to access and utilize funding sources to support innovative projects and drive economic growth in Africa.

The workshop began with a presentation by Bankole Oloruntoba, CEO Nigeria Climate Innovation Center (NCIC) on the concept of an innovation lifecycle. He explained how understanding the different stages of an innovation’s development can help entrepreneurs identify the best funding sources for their projects. Additionally, He highlighted the difference in accessing private sector funding, government funding, and funds from foreign sources. He later went on to clarify that accelerator and incubation differ and a startup will need pre-incubation at its ideation phase to produce a prototype after that it needs incubation to gain market entry and will only require acceleration when it needs growth and scaling.

Following Bankole’s presentation, Ireayomide Oladunjoye, Immediate past Head, Lagos Innovates (Lagos State Employment Trust Fund) spoke on the various funding sources available to entrepreneurs, including government grants, venture capital (VC), and crowdfunding. She stressed on the fact that at an early stage, bootstrapping or funding from friends and family is advisable and a business should only consider VCs when they have started making revenue.

The workshop then featured a panel session with Amarachi Nwachukwu, co-founder MendHQ, Mike Rosanje, CEO Cashbuddy, Ibrahim Ajala, co-founder VS Creatives, and Joba Oloba, co-founder The Nest Hub. The panelists shared each of their company’s funding stories and offered valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities of securing funding for innovative projects. One of the panelists mentioned that more than funding, the environment also played a vital role in determining the success of their organization.

Next, Joba Oloba, Co-founder The Nest Innovation Technology Park, discussed the concept of an innovation ecosystem and how to map it. He emphasized the importance of understanding the different players and resources in a local innovation ecosystem and how they can be leveraged to support the growth of innovative projects. He focused on the academia as a driver of research into current problems and innovative solutions and how the academia and DIHs should collaborate on upskilling programs.

To wrap up the event, attendees participated in a group activity session where they worked together to propose a sustainable funding/partnership framework for innovative projects. The goal of the activity was to explore and maximize opportunities that could bring economic growth to target markets. Group A devised a plan to scale the export of high-quality leather from Aba, a city in Abia, Nigeria using technology, while Group B developed a partnership strategy to bridge the institution and industry mismatch using digital innovation hubs as enablers.

At the close of the workshop, participants were able to describe funding sources within their innovation ecosystem, match financing sources to project needs, describe the role of DIHs as reference points, and understand best practices for maximizing funding opportunities and collaboration.

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Digital Innovation Hubs and Their Impact on Local Communities

Digital innovation hubs, also known as co-working spaces, have become a driving force in the Nigerian tech space by providing support and resources to entrepreneurs and start-ups, assisting them bring their ideas to life. They have played a significant role in supporting local communities by providing access to technology and fostering innovation. Examples of these hubs in Nigeria include Akure Tech Hub, The Nest Innovation Technology Park, Aiivon Hub, Edo innovates, Wennovation Hub etc. In this article, we will explore the impact of digital innovation hubs in Nigeria on their local communities.

One of the major impacts of digital innovation hubs in Nigeria is the opportunity they provide for local entrepreneurs and start-ups to access resources and support that would otherwise be out of reach. Many of these hubs offer access to funding, mentorship, and training programs, mostly in the form of accelerators and incubation, all of which can be crucial for early-stage businesses looking to get off the ground. For example, the Co-Creation Hub (CcHUB) in Lagos provides prototyping, product development, and business incubation services. In addition to its core services, CcHUB also hosts events and workshops focused on technology and innovation, providing a platform for knowledge sharing and networking.

The support provided by digital innovation hubs can help tech startups develop their ideas and bring them to market. This can have a positive impact on the local community by promoting job creation and economic growth. Start-ups that receive support from innovation hubs are more likely to succeed and create jobs, which can have a ripple effect on the local community. The provision of space for start-ups to flourish can aid in job creation and the stimulation of economic activity. This, in turn, can have a positive impact on the local community, promoting growth and development.

In addition to providing support for tech startups, innovation hubs and accelerators can contribute to the development of a stronger Nigerian tech ecosystem. These organizations can foster collaboration and networking by bringing together tech professionals, entrepreneurs, and investors, thereby contributing to the birth of a vibrant and thriving community of tech professionals in the country. This can lead to the development of new products, services, and technologies that can benefit the local community.

For example, Akure Tech Hub provides co-working spaces, business development, training, and mentorship services to entrepreneurs and start-ups which promotes collaboration. The Nest Hub also provides similar services. These organizations help support various startups and entrepreneurs in their respective locations, assisting them in turning their ideas into successful businesses.

Digital innovation hubs can also help bridge the digital divide by providing access to technology tools and co-working spaces to underserved communities. Many of these hubs offer internet access, computers, and other technology resources to entrepreneurs, students, and other members of the community. This can help to level the playing field and provide opportunities for individuals and communities that may otherwise be left behind.

In conclusion, digital innovation hubs in Nigeria are having a significant impact on their local communities. By providing support and resources for entrepreneurs, driving economic development, and fostering collaboration and networking, these hubs are helping to shape the future of Nigeria’s tech space. They are helping to create jobs, promote economic growth, and bridge the digital divide. As the tech space in Nigeria continues to evolve, digital innovation hubs will also evolve to keep meeting the needs of Nigeria’s innovation Ecosystem.

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TRANS-CONTINENTAL PARTNERSHIPS: AfriConEU Project – Enabling and Empowering the African Innovation Ecosystem Through Digital Innovation Hubs.

Digital innovation has become an increasingly important driver for Africa’s social and economic development in past few years. Digital technologies are providing solutions to the region’s pressing social concerns while also opening diverse new business opportunities.
The AfriConEU is an Horizon 2020 project centered around the improvement and creation of sustainable strategies to include partnerships between African and European Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs) to foster digital growth and economic development through the establishment of a Trans-Continental Networking Academy for capacity building, information sharing, networking collaborations, joint projects, and venture development. This project would strengthen African DIHs’ ability to expedite the economy’s digital transformation.
The AfriConEU Project is set to achieve this goal by developing, testing, and validating a mechanism to share learnings, best practices, experiences, and resources between DIHs in Africa and the European Union (EU) in a way that is aggregated, easy to understand, replicable and self-sustaining. This Networking Academy, envisioned to empower both African and European Innovation Ecosystem will build local industries, boost innovation ecosystems, support the scale-up of African start-ups and empower the youth population with the necessary skills to thrive in a digitalized world.
Implementation of the Academy will be through the creation of an online multi-actor community (the AfriConEU Community) to facilitate dialogue, experience sharing, and collaboration between stakeholders from both continents. Eleven Partners across both continents on the project includes; Inova+ Innovation Services, SA (Portugal), Emerging Communities Tech-Up Organization (Nigeria), Youthmakers Hub Astiki Mi Kerdoskopiki Etaireia (Greece), Associacao Porto Business School-U.Porto (Portugal), Outbox U Ltd (Uganda), Dpixel SRL (Italy), Stimmuli for Social Change (Greece), ITC-Inovacijsko Tehnoloski Grozd Murska Sohota (Slovenia), Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (Tanzania), Africa Technology Business Network C.I.C (United Kingdom), HapaFoundation (Ghana).
Deliverables have been divided into various parts like: Context and State of the Art Analysis, Development of the AfriConEU Networking Academy, Roll out implementation and assessment, Community development and results uptake, e.t.c.
Emerging Communities Africa (ECA), Nigeria – a non-profit organization focused on catalyzing technology development to solve problems in underserved communities, leads the Stakeholder Engagement segment as part of Phase 4 of the project, which is the implementation and assessment phase. Focus will be on design of engagement strategies, and it is expected to run from January – April 2022 with series of engagement activities within this timeline. These activities will be performed in Akure (Nigeria), (as well as Kampala, Kumasi, and Tanzania respectively) with the aim of gathering local ecosystem actors to inform them about the Academy’s proposed resources and activities.
The first activity of these series of engagements will commence with a virtual Pre-Stakeholder’s Engagement targeted at key stakeholders in the Nigerian Innovation Ecosystem -Academia, Private Sector and Government to share knowledge and chart a path for fostering collaboration between DIH in Africa and Europe.
Predominantly, this project will enhance and foster insightful collaborative activities tailored towards knowledge sharing and Partnership Development programmes of the AfriConEU Networking Academy whilst strengthening the digital innovation ecosystem in Africa.

To learn more and stay updated on the AfriConEU Project;
Follow @africoneu on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn, visit https://africoneu.eu/
Contact person: Executive Director, Emerging Communities Africa, Miss Peace Odili
Email: info@emergingcommunities.africa , website: emergingcommunities.africa/