Expand our activities closer to refugee situations and tech hubs is Techfugees’ first impact goal. That’s why after opening our first African chapter in Kenya in early 2019 and running a successful hackathon, we are thrilled to start a new chapter in Nigeria! This has been made possible by the commitment of four remarkable guys: Tunde, Bryan, Lediju, and Obinna. Read on to learn more about their plans to empower the 2+ million displaced people in the region with technology.
Could you please introduce yourself and your team to the Techfugees community?
My name is Brian, co-lead of the new-born Techfugees Nigeria local chapter! I had spent most of my life in Lagos before work necessitated my movement to Abuja. Got a Bachelor’s degree in Urban & Regional Planning from the University of Lagos, but tech was always and is still my thing. I have known Lediju from my days at Unilag and we have worked together on different projects over the years. Also, we worked together with Tunde on AlterConf in 2017. I met Obinna during Youth service (compulsory in Nigeria after tertiary education). I would call him ‘a fixer’ but I wonder if y’all wouldn’t think ‘Ray Donovan’ 😄
How did you hear about Techfugees?
I have been an advocate of inclusion and tech for marginalized people since my school days because I believe that, in tech lies solutions to most of the problems we face as humans. I worked with Lediju and Tunde on AlterConf Lagos in 2017. Displaced people are left almost totally at the mercy of NGOs in Nigeria, moving to Abuja gave me the opportunity to see first hand what they go through. So when Lediju told me about Techfugees and that he was teaming up with Tunde, I was happy to be a part of it!
Which are the displaced people’s main needs in your country?
As a result of violent attacks by the jihadist group Boko Haram on Nothern-Nigeria, almost 2 million Nigerians have been internally displaced in the last 6 years. The group burnt down schools, healthcare centers, and houses. Boko Haram’s operations spread into neighboring countries with some of the victims also ending up in Nigeria as refugees. So the current needs include but are not limited to shelter, health care, education, food security, clean water, employment, skills acquisition, access/route to market, etc.
What are your projects for the next days, weeks and months?
We are currently identifying tech projects/ideas that would bring about solutions to some of the problems faced by displaced people. We hope to move quickly enough with this phase, so we can have our first hackathon before the end of this year! We are currently recruiting volunteers working on solutions to social problems, others with media and programming skills. We are also reaching out to potential partners.
With which kind of organization (tech, NGOs, universities, officials,…) do you plan to partner with?
We are looking to partner with tech hubs, NGOs, universities, relevant ministries/departments/agencies of the Government. The UNHCR can also get us access into the refugee camps set up by the Government. And we already work with Towards A Greater Nigeria Foundation (TAGNF) which has hosted our weekly meetings so far.
How can the Techfugees community help you? What are you looking for now?
We need to spread the word as much as possible and we are open to suggestions in the form of projects that have worked in other places, though the Nigeria situation may be peculiar. Any potential partners/sponsors in your contact base would be helpful as well.