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Report: WSIS Volunteer Family Nigeria

Dr Rose Ekeleme (IAVE), Oyebisi.B.Oluseyi (NNNGO)
05 November 2005

Volunteerism & ICTs in Nigeria

The WSIS Volunteer family in Nigeria’s activities dates back to the extended process of involvement by the Volunteer Family at the Bamako Regional Conference in May 2002, which has led us, as a Volunteer Family, to work with other volunteer families in other countries of the world involved in the WSIS process to create a Volunteering Action Plan identifying a range of priorities to be implemented between now and Tunis 2005.

A Rural Youth Working on a Computer

With the current growth in the use of Information Communication Technologies (ICTS) in the world today, Nigeria’s use of ICTs in urban areas is rapidly on the increase, with the introduction of the GSM in 2001, the country now has over 10 Million of its population making use of mobile phones. The use Internet - another ICT tool is now available in most urban cities of Nigeria, which were not about 6 six years ago. New local and community radio are being licensed with satellite TV’s now available

Having highlighted these major changes in the introduction and use of ICTs in Nigeria, the digital divide is still wide in Nigeria, where though relatively affordable but at a very early stage with little awareness compared to other countries of the world. Accessibility to ICT tools has widened the gap between the urban and the rural Nigeria. In Nigeria today, volunteers are playing an important role in bridging the divide between those who do have access to information and those who do not.

Rising from our meeting at the WSIS African regional Prepcom in Accra Ghana on the 2nd of February 2005 where we had a meeting of the WSIS Volunteer Family deciding issues as it regards Volunteering and ICTs and working inline with the volunteer families action plan of volunteering and ICTs we here in Nigeria successfully carried out the following activities:

ICT4D Kiddies Club

On March 3 2005, the WSIS Volunteer family in Nigeria realizing the need for the early teaching of Nigeria children in ICT to bring about sustainable development launched the ICT4D kiddies club. The Club was launched so as to help primary school pupils understand the use and importance of ICT and also to encourage school managements include this in their curriculum. It is to be noted that most private primary and secondary schools in Nigeria now use this ICT4D Kiddies Club Members doing a playlet during the Children and UN workshop

as an additional plus for students who attend their school. The project, which was meant to be piloted in government public schools, could not be done due to the bureaucratic processes involved with most of the school principals asking us to bring letters of approval from the state ministry of education.
The project was piloted in a private primary school (Mopelola Nursery and Primary school) in Muslim Odinjo area of Oyo-state. Before the advent of the club the school has not been teaching ICT effectively. Having discussed the initiative with the Proprietress of the School Mrs. A.I Jegede who graciously approved the project for her school we sent in a volunteer Computer science teacher to the school in person of Mr. Akintunde Emmanuel Fawole who is coordinating the programme at the school.

The launch of the club which took place at the school premises also saw the members of the club 50 in number and in their 5th and 6th year at the primary education level with an age range of between 8 and 10 visiting a telecenter in town were they opened an email address each and some of them sending emails to the WSIS international focal point.

The ICT4D kiddie’s club coordinator- Mr. Akin Fawole set into action by conducting a computer class for all pupils of Mopelola Nursery and primary school from primary one to primary six from Mondays through to Fridays. A curriculum was drawn for the pupils by the coordinator and his team with a variety of activities carried out along the line, these includes an ICT poster/picture contest, ICT playlet and a regular meeting of the ICT4D kiddies club members every Friday by 11am.

The school now has a functional ICT workshop with 5 computers- thanks to the proprietor who made available these computers within the first two weeks of the launch of the project.
All the graduating set of the 2004/2005 academic sessions all wrote a project, which they typed on their own under the supervision of the ICT4D kiddies club team and were all awarded a certificate in computer appreciation.

The ICT4D kiddie’s club project is at the moment working on training all the teachers at Mopelola Nursery and Primary School on the use of the computer and the Internet.

Community Connect.Com Newsletter (CC.WEB)

The need to get the people sensitized on ICTs, MDGs and Volunteering led to the launch of the community newsletter an official newsletter of the WSIS Volunteer family.
The newsletter, which runs every month, gives information to people on the MDGs, ICT, Youth, Volunteering and other developmental issues. The inaugural meeting of the Community Connect.Com Newsletter was held on March 6 2005 with the

Some members of the WSIS Volunteer Family in a rural community maiden edition produced and circulated on April 21, 2005 amongst Non governmental organisations, Post secondary school students, Youth establishments like barbing saloons, hair dressing saloons and telecenters.

Copies of the newsletters were also distributed through the Nigeria Network of NGOs; the newsletter is at the moment enjoying circulation in all the six geopolitical zones of the country.
With 100 copies in print made available each month to our partnering organisations, the newsletter has so far been receiving series of feedbacks from its readers whom have commended the initiative and have subscribed to having it in their offices, shops and homes every month.

The Newsletter is funded by House 5+ a member of the WSIS Volunteer family in Nigeria

Launch of Free Short Message Services

A free Short Message Services on the MDGs, ICTs, Youth, Volunteering and other developmental issues was launched on March 13, 2005 as part of efforts to reach and advocate to a wider audience on developmental issues.

A mobile telephone database of participants at the 2004 International Volunteer Day events was used to pilot this project after which we had other people subscribing to the service.
Every month we send out 160 word characters through the mobile phone to individuals on MDGs, ICTs, Youth, Volunteering and other developmental issues. The short message service, which is done in partnership with a young entrepreneur- Mr. Kazeem who runs a mobile telecenter, is sent to over 100 people each month from different parts of the country where we have mobile phone networks functioning.

With some rural areas of Nigeria coming on the GSM network we have been able to reach some rural areas in Nigeria like Olorunda, Atiba, through this service. The free short message service is sent out in the countries major local languages, Hausa, Ibo, Yoruba and also in the countries official language-English.
The project is still ongoing and would run till the remaining half of the year.

Rural Voices of Youth Forum (RVOY)

The Rural Voices of Youth forum is an initiative of the WSIS focal point Mr.Oyebisi. B.Oluseyi, which he developed in Ghana during his participation at the WSIS African Regional Prepcom in February 2005.

Having discussed with some youths in Ghana on the future of ICTs and Rural youths he launched this project as a way of bringing the Rural youths voice to bear on global discussions.
In partnership with the WSIS Volunteer family in Nigeria, this project, which started on March 15 2005, has seen volunteers visiting about 4 rural villages of Nigeria. The project, which is done in collaboration with the UNICEF voices of youth forum runs every month and brings rural youths in Nigeria's voices to the UNICEF Youth Forum hence helping to bridge the digital divide.

Every month a group of Volunteers go to Rural, Peri-urban areas and Villages to have discussions with youths in those areas on discussions of interest to the Rural Voices of Youth Forum team which are taken from the UNICEF Voices of youth forum discussion portal this in our opinion contributes to the attainment of global peace and a just world!

Issues discussed so far on the forum ranged from that of water through to good parenting and also ICT.

The initiative is now being replicated by a group of youths in India with the RVOY team in Nigeria providing them with technical support alongside the UNICEF voices of youth forum team.

Rural ICT Workshop

As part of efforts to bridge the digital divide and help rural youths benefit from the importance of the use of ICTs, the WSIS volunteer family in Nigeria in collaboration with, IAVE, Nigeria Network of NGOs, The Conservators, ICVolunteers informal network team and Cyigitemmy consult started a rural ICT workshop for Rural youths in Nigeria.

The project, which started in May 14, was launched in Olorunda Abaa village in Lagelu local government area Oyo-state with 30 rural youths from olorunda and neighboring villages attending the workshop.

The workshop, which centers on awareness creation on the importance and relevance of ICT in agriculture and other fields, had the participants working on a computer, type their names and also save their documents.

At the end of the workshop a community development youth forum was launched in the village at the insistence of the youths with the support of their patron.

Volunteering, Youth and ICTs Workshop

In pursuance of the recommendations of the meeting of the WSIS volunteer family in Accra Ghana, the WSIS volunteer family in Nigeria in June facilitated a workshop on June 23rd 2005 at the International Youth Forum in Jos organized by Youngstars Foundation International.

Speaking on the theme: Volunteering, Youth and ICTs, the WSIS Focal point in Nigeria highlighted the importance of participants on the value of volunteering as a means of participation through a unified effort, commitment and free will. The need to volunteer for development, why volunteering serves as a great tool for youth participation and the importance of ICTs in development with emphasis on MDGs, NEEDs project of the Federal Government of Nigeria and the role of volunteers in ICT sighting activities of ICVolunteers cyber volunteers programme and the UNV’s Online volunteering platform.

Going by the evaluations at the end of the workshop, participants about 42 in number from different states across the federation and representing the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria were happy to hear about volunteering and how it could serve as a means of active citizen participation, of particular reference is the comment by Mr. Musa

Cross section of participants at the International Youth Conference, Jos 2005

Yahaya who said “I just want to let you know that your talk on the issue of volunteering really touched me, I hope you will touch my life and community by giving us the support as I am going back to my community to fill a need”.
At the end of the events a communiqué was issued recommending that all youth participants should go back to their communities to help develop it through the use of ICTs with active participation aimed at building a just world and also help in restructuring the National youth council of Nigeria in their various states by volunteering within their facilities.

ENigeria 2005 Conference

From June 28th-30th 2005, the WSIS volunteer family in Nigeria participated at the eNigeria 2005 conference organized by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), the Federal government’s agency in charge of ICTs in Nigeria under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology. eNigeria is a yearly event organised by the agency.
The team for this year’s event is: ICT deployment for sustainable development in Nigeria Rural Areas.

Facilitators for the events were drawn from the private sector-ICT companies, State governors, IT personnel’s, University professors, Government officials in charge of ICTs, NITDA etc. Target audience at the events were Local government chairmen’s, state Commissioners of science and technology, Directors of relevant ministries, private sector and the general public not forgetting also the youths.

Papers presented at the events ranges from the National IT policy, ICT4D, Internet access in rural areas, transforming rural areas through ICT, MDGs implementation, WSIS plan of action, experience sharing from states that have started using ICTs through to Youths as catalyst for ICTs.

The WSIS Volunteer family in Nigeria highlighted the importance of volunteering in ICT deployment in rural areas with a strong call through a statement issued at the conference through the documents submitted by youths at the events on the need to strengthen the Nigerian National Volunteer Service to be able to adequately play this role.

World Telecommunications Development Conference-African Regional Prepcom

The African Regional Prepcom events organised by the Nigerian Communications Commission in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Communications is a workshop for Youths, Women, Civil Society Organisations and the public-Private sector as a preclude to the African Regional Preparatory Meeting (RPM) to the World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC ’06).

The events which held from the 1st to 3rd July 2005, had in attendance Youths, Women, Civil Society Organisations and the public-Private sector from all African countries with each group having different themes for their workshops; The Women group had their theme as: Women, New ICTs and Socio-Economic Transformation.

Participants and Resource persons at the events were drawn from youth, women, civil society and the public-private sectors within the African continent. The three days event saw youths defining their role in the development of ICTs in Africa with emphasis on participation and involvement with call from all youth delegates to the government on funding of youth ICT initiatives and also technological development in Africa.

The WSIS Volunteer family in Nigeria attended the Prepcom and participated at both the civil society and youth links with active participation and advocacy on the role of volunteering in ICT.

National Online Volunteering Platform

The WSIS Volunteer Family in Nigeria through the Nigeria Network of NGOs established a national online volunteering platform in collaboration with the United Nations Volunteers Online Volunteering Platform.

The platform, which started in May, now provides opportunity for Non-governmental organisations in Nigeria to benefit from the services of online volunteers at no cost to them.
Dr M. Ashaq Raza a three yearlong standing Eritrean online volunteer with the UNV was the first online volunteer to be recruited and now volunteers as the platforms online volunteering manager and also works on the development reporter newsletter- a newsletter that reports on NGO activities in Nigeria and world over.

Awareness and advocacies on the National online volunteering platform is in progress through the e-newsletter of the Nigeria Network of NGOs, NGO meetings, word of mouth and also on the pages of the Nigeria Network of NGOs website.
The online volunteering platform is fast receiving publicity and interests from NGOs in Nigeria, with an average of 2-5 emails received on the use of the services by the IT department of the Nigeria Network of NGOs on how to make use of this facility.
It is hoped that in the coming months most of the NGOs would be recruiting their online volunteers.

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