Paradigm Initiative (PI) is a social enterprise that builds an ICT-enabled support system and advocates digital rights for young people in order to improve their livelihoods. Founded in 2007, PI has worked with government, civil society, private institutions and international organisations, including the United Nations, to set standards in ICT education, telecentre support, ICT applications in rural areas, and digital rights in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa.
PI implements three core programmes, with two focusing on digital inclusion, and the third on digital rights advocacy.
The `LIFE’ (digital inclusion) training programme – LIFE is an acronym which stands for Life skills, ICT skills, Financial readiness skills and Entrepreneurship skills – connects under-served youth with ICT-enabled opportunities in response to the ill-effects of unemployment and poverty, among other vices, that limit the potential contribution of young Nigerians to the nation’s economy. Paradigm Initiative runs LIFE training centres in Lagos (South-West Nigeria), Aba (South-East Nigeria) and Kano (North-West Nigeria). In 2017, PI trained over 600 youth through the LIFE programme, empowering them with ICT, business and life skills. A total of 248 youth completed the 10-week LIFE training programme, and of those, 50 are already in employment, 48 are involved in entrepreneurial activities, and two are on internships.
PI works closely with underserved communities and youth, providing access to web-enabled technologies, digital skills training, entrepreneurship and life-skills training, online work training, connection to short-term internships, and supporting them to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. The ‘Techtiary’ programme is a platform that fills an existing gap for budding Nigerian technology entrepreneurs studying in tertiary institutions, providing them with a place to showcase their work, connect with resources, and inspire innovation. The programme includes workshops and gatherings across Nigeria.
PI’s digital rights advocacy programme is focused on the development of public policy for digital rights and Internet freedom in key regions of Africa, with offices in Abuja, Nigeria; Yaoundé, Cameroon; and Nairobi, Kenya. Its policy and advocacy efforts include media campaigns, litigation, coalition-building, capacity-building, research and report writing. PI is the convener of the #NetRights Coalition, a group dedicated to protecting Internet freedom in Africa, and a member of the Global Network Initiative. Over the last six years, PI has consistently convened the annual Internet Freedom Forum. The 2018 edition was held from 24-26 April 2018 in Abuja, Nigeria, with more than 200 delegates from 30 African countries.
PI will host the 7th Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum (#DRIF19) (formerly known as the Internet Freedom Forum) from 23-25 April 2019 in Lagos, Nigeria.
PI is also at the forefront of the creation of a Digital Rights and Freedom Bill which has been passed by the two chambers of Nigeria’s national assembly and now awaits presidential assent. When it becomes law, the bill will help safeguard human rights online in Nigeria.
PI has trained more than 600 NGOs and schools from 24 states across Nigeria on the use of ICTs for development (ICT4D), and also completed social media training and consulting, in-house capacity development, and web and mobile app development projects for various organisations.
PI currently has 29 members of staff working across six offices in Nigeria and Cameroon, and a pool of volunteers numbering over 50 people. Through its various programmes, and the commitment of its staff, PI will continue to connect communities with the socio-economic opportunities that ICTs provide.
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