In June of 2014, the tech climate in Nigeria shifted dramatically when The Rockefeller Foundation announced a $500,000 grant in favor of Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN). PIN is an ongoing project headed by social entrepreneur Gbenga Sesan that strives to familiarize underprivileged Nigerian youth with future careers in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).
PIN’s Life Skills, ICTs, Financial Literacy, and Entrepreneurship (L.I.F.E.) program is instrumental in introducing ICT careers to Nigerian youth who may not have another way to access the newest tech. Program officer Ihueze Nwobilor leads the way in providing young people between the ages 12-28 access to web tech and digital literacy. Ajegunle L.I.F.E. has its own training facility, and as of 2007 has trained 574 youth–and most of them have been able to secure tech employment with a success rate of 60%. Two more training facilities have opened since with many more in the works.
In addition to training initiatives, PIN’s Magoyi Program (a word that means “advocate” in the Hausa language) educates adolescents on internet freedom in Nigeria. The researchers and advocates for this program know that internet freedom is a touchstone for building careers in ICT. They even provided a comprehensive report on the state of internet freedom throughout Africa at the 11th Internet Governance Forum in Mexico in late 2016.
In an article he wrote for CNBC Africa, Gbenga Sesan writes about young people who are using their new net-savvy skills to improve their careers and cultures. He says “the evidence suggests [kids] are listening” when it comes to ICT education, discussing a young man who created an app to help younger children stay away from inappropriate web content and a woman who created MobiCheck, an app that allows patients access to medical records in real time. These young developers may not have had the essential skills to create their apps without the help of PIN.
PIN continues to expand as the digital jobs industry in Nigeria grows. Sesan uses his work with PIN to push for greater internet freedoms in Nigeria, which he knows will expand opportunities for underprivileged youth. As Nigeria’s population grows, so do opportunities for greater digital involvement in the country.