Category: Communities

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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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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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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.