5 Take Home lessons from the Civic X Launch

On Friday 27th of July, the Civic Foundation for Innovation hit another milestone with the official launching of its mobile learning lab – Civic X, an initiative of the Foundation.

Civic-X is a mobile hub transformed from a truck, into a 15-seater tech hub. Retrofitted with an LED screen, smart tabs and computers, electricity and internet facility. The truck is deployed to execute a specially designed program for women and children in rural areas.

The program seeks to create access and empower women between the ages of 18-35 years old and children aged 10-16 years old in rural communities with information and skill acquisition on issues relating to healthcare, agriculture, basic ICT and social equality using technology as a vehicle.

Civic Foundation launched the program in the School without Walls, a school for children at the Area 1- Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp, Abuja.

Here are five points and lessons learnt from the event:

Breaking Boundaries, Building Synergy

Digital revolution is reaching rural areas in many developing countries. However, the rural digital divide continues to present considerable challenges, especially in a country like Nigeria.

One thing we are committed to is reducing the gap between rural areas and access to ICT and innovation in Nigeria. Rural residents remain largely marginalized; almost anyone seeking innovative products will look to the city centers and the perceived literates.

Civic X allows young children dare to dream by connecting them with Leaders of thought under the mentorship series of the program.

Anywhere innovation and technology thrives, community is formed. A community of change influencers and agents of development. The ripple effect of this can be as huge as total poverty elevation from our society.


Educational Continuity is Important: The IDPS were not always displaced.  

One thing we learnt from the launch was that the kids in the IDP camps had proper lives before tragedy struck.

Prior to becoming “displaced”, they attended and received basic and fundamental level of education, either completed or half way. There is an urgent need to build on the foundation already established in terms of education for these children. Also, we want to introduce ICT education amongst those that have hitherto, not had any form of ICT education.

Civic X seeks to build on this ‘foundation’ by raising the bar and exposing women and children to technology. Starting from the basics and a limited number of communities, it is our plan to scale operations, and increase the number of beneficiaries for this project.


Empowering Women Is Empowering the Society

The underdevelopment or slow development of any country is directly proportional to the marginalization of women in issues of nation building and entrepreneurial development in the past.

This is because statistics and research by business analysts and human resource managers have shown that women are greater maximizers of resources. Studies have shown that women channel a larger chunk of their earnings to building family and society.

The place of women in any endeavor cannot be over stretched. Given their huge contributions to socio-economic development, there can be no meaningful advancement when we exclude women from governance and the process of governance.  

The Civic X initiative for women is designed to help women make better and more informed decisions in their day-to-day lives. The women would be taught on a wide array of topics including but not limited to; personal and financial management, civic education & participation, health, agriculture and governance.

Harness the Energy of the Young

The energy and excitement with which the kids learnt was amazing. This energy is an untapped resource. This energy must be channeled into productive engagements. As a law of science, energy cannot be destroyed.

We can convert it into something impactful or we can watch these kids viciously engage in social crimes and vices.  Education and inculcation of societal values at a young age reduces the chances of kids engaging in such vices.

Moreover, growing in these camps and rural areas without adequate guidance exposes them to a wide range of vices. Educating and empowering these kids with skills that can be commercialized will have a positive ripple effect on the rural areas over the years because it will hugely reduce crime rate while boosting development.

Make the Move and Get the Push

There is a general notion that government is not supportive of indigenous initiatives. The launch of the Civic X proved contrary.

We got Oludolapo Osinbajo – the wife of the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to engage the kids in a Skype call and watch them learn. Three days after, she invited two of the students to the Aso-Villa for an outing and practically spent her day with the kids.

They were treated to lunch and spent quality time with her Excellency. At Civic, we believe that what the government is looking for is a value proposition. Its the same thing every top social impact investor is looking for.

This article was written by Nwachuku Nnamdi for the Civic Innovation Lab.

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Wakanda is closer than you think: Amrote Abdella spotlights the real African innovative tech stories

The real Vibranium of Africa is its people and its potential - @amroteab Click To Tweet

Amrote Abdella spearheads Microsoft’s investments in Africa across 54 countries, working closely with her team to enable and accelerate digital transformation opportunities.

She was recently named one of Africa’s Top 100 Young Business Leaders, ranking 12th out of 100 leaders who are playing a major role in the continent’s economic development.

Before becoming Regional Director, Amrote was 4Afrika’s Director for VC & Startups, where she worked with start-ups supporting the innovation ecosystem in Africa.

Amrote writes about some of 4Afrika’s real-world heroes and amazing tech start-ups in Africa.


Since the release of Black Panther, the world has been captivated. The action-packed and fun fantasy movie has been embraced for its representation of black people generally, and Africans specifically.

Another key element of the film’s cult-like status is the appeal of the fictional and futuristic African country, Wakanda – full of tech innovations and ultra-modern urban development.

But how removed is the world of Wakanda from our own? As a continent, Africa has many advantages that are driving us closer to that aspirational vision: economic growth in many states that is outpacing much of the world, and a youthful population with an entrepreneurial bent.

And unlike Wakanda, we aren’t afraid to share our innovations.

Microsoft 4Afrika has been playing their part in Africa’s digital transformation. We have been supporting businesses, government projects, startups and young workers through empowering changes in internet access, service delivery enabled by tech and economic development. 

Launched in 2013, 4Afrika’s approach has seen them partner with projects of high impact that are driving Africa’s technological awakening. The following are some of 4Afrika’s real-world heroes.

Music to our ears

Damola Taiwo, Dolapo Taiwo, and Tola Ogunsola are three entrepreneurs who have come through the 4Afrika community and are transforming streaming music in Nigeria through their MyMusic digital music platform (MyMusic.com.ng).

MyMusic not only gives users access to home-grown music favorites but has a chatbot that helps users discover new songs and download the ones they love.

This bot – built on Skype – was showcased at the Microsoft NexTech Africa conference, and is one of the new technologies that has helped MyMusic grow to 700 000 active monthly users.

Their success is largely rooted in local knowledge – understanding the peculiarities of the cash-driven market. Given this, their smart use of airtime-as-payment lets users buy songs with a single click.

It’s a viable business which creates a powerful ripple effect that supports and monetizes African musicians.

Pay it forward

Another growing Nigerian start-up supported by 4Afrika is SpacePointe. Sayu Abend and Osato Osayande started this omnichannel platform with the explicit purpose of supporting business owners.

They do this by offering an innovative mobile point-of-service application designed for the Nigerian market. This helps thousands of online and offline businesses transact, and streamline their sales, marketing, and payment processing.

Theirs is a superhero narrative of financial inclusion and economic growth in action.

Creative culture

When it comes to creativity and storytelling, Hollywood certainly doesn’t have the market fully covered. Nigerians and other Africans are creating new characters, challenges, and scenarios every day that are engaging local target audiences.

4Afrika grantee Gamsole, for example, has created 50 new mobile games for the Android and iOS platforms in the past two years. Gamsole games have had over 10 million downloads. 

Most recently, in partnership with Diamond Bank, they created Dreamville on Azure, a digital financial platform that lets youth plan their future, save, chat and develop their financial literacy – all while playing games.

Skills for good

Our real-life tech heroes are also using their top skills for good. They are also partnering with other heroes of the non-profit sector to contribute to meaningful change in Africa.

The MySkills4Afrika project has supported four Nigeria non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in their cloud journey. This has, in turn, helped them automate many administrative processes so they can spend more time on their transformative work.

These include Junior Chambers International, United for Education Foundation, the Tony Elumelu Foundation, and Technology for Sustainable Development. In partnering with the essential NGO space, we are amplifying the trans-formative effects for thousands of more people.

In the cloud, on the ground

Because of Africa’s documented historical infrastructure woes, we have become a continent famous for “leapfrogging” traditional infrastructure.

Cloud makes sense everywhere. But this is more so in Africa, as it provides the means to scale up without costly infrastructure development. It overcomes the issues inherent in legacy technology and software. It also reduces the significant barrier that a difficult and broadly distributed supply chain can become.

Through strategic use of cloud services, young African entrepreneurs are enjoying the same options as their established global counterparts.

The next wave

The real Vibranium of Africa is its people and its potential. The next superheroes of trade, purpose-drive entrepreneurship, and technology are waking up today in Lagos, Accra, Johannesburg, Yaoundé, and Cairo.

They are already discovering their abilities and nurturing their dreams. Let’s celebrate them and tell their stories. Just as much as we relish a different African narrative on the silver screen.

This article was written by Amrote Abdella, Regional Director, Microsoft 4Afrika.

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