Emergence of digital citizen-action projects
Calendrier : September 2016 – September 2017 / Budget global : €500,000
The growing need for citizen-led control of public initiatives and the explosion of online media present an unprecedented opportunity for young, committed African people who are innovating in this field. These agents of change still lack the time, resources and skills needed to perpetuate their activities.
For one year, Citizen Connections supported fifteen young people running digital and citizen projects in French-speaking Africa – journalists, association leaders or social entrepreneurs – who were selected following a call for applications. An ambitious pedagogical tool mobilising around 40 French and African participants was successfully piloted: remote project supervision, discovering an urban experimental site, “bar camps” for fast-tracking projects, immersive collective projects in the form of “bush camps”, which took the participants to rural areas with no internet access.
This “pilot” edition helped participants to devise and develop innovative and diverse projects, such as a platform for asking elected officials questions and discussing issues with them (in Mali), a geolocation app for deteriorating public infrastructures (in Togo) or an online library containing legal texts and administrative documents (in Benin).
Forming a community of young leaders
More generally, the participants enhanced their technical skills in managing citizen and digital projects. They are better able to define objectives, create an action plan and financing plan, give their actions publicity in the media and assess their impact. Stronger and more credible, the beneficiaries are better positioned to build viable projects and arouse the interest of funders and investors in order to bring their initiatives to fruition. Since the end of the project, some of the beneficiaries have indicated that they feel more identifiable and more in demand among the players of the sector.
Citizen Connections also brought the participants together within a community of young leaders with shared values and practices, ensuring cooperation and exchange in the long term. The “bush camps” in Senegal and Benin, which took the participants to rural areas in order to find – together – specific solutions to the problems of village communities, reinforced this group dynamic.
The project indirectly benefits civil society organisations, which can make use of the talent and know-how acquired by the participants, and also benefits the media and populations, which are finding new sources of reliable and relevant information on public management. The public administrations, in turn, are able to build on the dynamics created by the project leaders.
Each phase of training enabled me to put my plans into perspective and improve them. The mentors and local entrepreneurs mobilised helped me to identify the shortcomings in my project and find solutions. For instance, making the app accessible to rural populations with no internet access or members of the country’s population who are illiterate.
Tidiani Togola, creator of the MonElu app
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