How Can U.S. and African Youth Use Technology To Empower Citizens and Communities?

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
July 31, 2010
Man Repairs Computers in Nigeria

The President's Forum with Young African Leaders takes place in Washington, D.C., from August 3-5. The forum will include small-group discussions on topics such as transparency and accountability, job creation and entrepreneurship, rights advocacy, and the use of technology to empower individuals and communities.

In her Internet Freedom speech, Secretary Clinton said, "Information networks have become a great leveler, and we should use them together to help lift people out of poverty and give them a freedom from want."How can youth from the United States and African nations use technology to work together to reduce poverty, advance human rights, and empower citizens and communities?



Chrysoulla S.
July 31, 2010

Chrysoulla S. in Canada writes:

A stellar example is the Map Kibera initiative. The work done here is inspiring!

Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya, widely known as Africa's largest slum, remains a blank spot on the map. In this video at the link below, Mikel Maron reviews the Map Kibera initiative and lessons learned in mobilizing 13 young Kiberans to create the first public digital map of their own community.

read article about map kibera:

Karen H.
Oregon, USA
July 31, 2010

Karen H. in Oregon writes:

The Internet, with Youtube and the social networks, allows participants to see how the other lives. We hear each other's music, and see places we never imagined existed. The world is getting smaller.

When we let go of the differences between people, we see the similarities. We all want the same things: to be able to create the life we want, to be treated fairly and equally, and to have a voice in our government.

Once we let go of the wars and conflict, the intolerance, we are unlimited as to what we can create. Some of the major technological advances will come about as global enterprises, such as the Space Elevator. We are coming into an era where the individual has more power than was imagined in the past, but at the same time less power because of lack of understanding that we do have the power.

It is time for mankind to share research on everything, to let go of the idea that one person must keep understandings to himself or herself. This is what the young people today are teaching the older generations.

Live your dreams. The sky is the limit.

Eric K.
Minnesota, USA
July 31, 2010

Eric S. K. writes:

I'm all about youth empowerment, when that's achieved, the rest will just fall in place easily.

I personally went about it this way, i simply founded an Intelligent Electronic Surveillance Solutions [I.E.S.S.] company , heavily dependent on ICT, a type of job that attracts the GenYs that are already ICT savvy; our projected job creation rate per month is @ 1000 jobs/month in West Africa alone. I'm urging the Govt. and VCs to come in and support and encourage our initiative!

Long Live USA!! Long Live Africa!!

Maureen A.
July 31, 2010

Maureen A. in Uganda writes:

The youth have a very big role to play given the fact that they form the biggest percentage of ICT users.

Youth can use social online netwoking platforms to advocate for gender sensitive, transparent policies.

A case in point could be by using digital stories for a cause; Say to end gender based violence, to campaign against increased maternal and infant deaths as well as for youth sensitive policies.

All leaders in Africa and America must involve youth in policy formulation and budget tracking on key issues that directly affect the youth.

Qn: Which African Countries are being represented?

M. F.
Massachusetts, USA
August 2, 2010

M.J.F. in Massachusetts writes:

The African youth in the United States need to be encouraged and empowered to engage with the youth in Africa. The enormous energy from the Somalis youth must be channeled right and thus there will be a mutual benefit for both, United States and Somalia. There are huge Somali human capitals in Unites States which can be used to help build a lasting bridge between United States and Somalia.

Engage with the progressive Somali youth and help them find sustainable peace in Somalia.

I am a writer and my writings try to empower the Somali youth.


Thank you,

Linda R.
United States
August 2, 2010

Linda R. in the U.S.A. writes:

I've been supporting programs related to youth and ICTs in several African countries for the past few years.

I understand that you are trying to generate discussion, but I somehow think the question here is wrong because it's a tech-led question, ('how can we use technology') rather than 'what do we want to achieve'. I would look instead at the goals in the aforementioned areas, in the context of each country, and see what information / communication gaps exist, what the local ICT context is, and then develop a holistic effort around that incorporating ICTs only if they make sense.

Some concrete thoughts:
- involve local youth in this process/in the program design; and not only those youth that you already know about from capital cities or well-known NGOs, or those youth who already have access to Internet and speak English.
- build program concepts that respond to individual youth desires to improve themselves and earn a living and that also benefit the community and the greater good
- strengthen what exists and co-design programs/ initiatives together with youth based on what *they* want and the objectives they want to reach (not what the US govt wants), and based on each local and national context.
- don't assume you are starting from zero - work with existing skills/capacities on the ground/in communities and with existing groups rather than starting initiatives from thin air; work with national/local NGOs or other existing structures rather than starting new ones
- be aware of and work to overcome barriers such as electricity, access, gender discrimination, language
- look at existing initiatives and goals and see how to build ICTs into them, rather than starting with ICTs and seeing what you can do with them
- help populations understand the role and position of their governments in strengthening and fostering access to information and technology, and support civil society's efforts to push for laws that favor accessibility and openness.

pamela g.
West Virginia, USA
August 2, 2010

Pamela G. in West Virginia writes:

Bringing the youth of underdeveloped countries together to help them become technologically literate is the key to stopping unending poverty.

New Mexico, USA
August 2, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Well it has been suggested that there's an "App" for everything...for a Iphone to tune in the world with, or an Ipod to tune out the world with. When someone comes up with an "App" to keep the peace, then the question of the week will have an appropriaqte answer.

Folks are going to find the means to do what they want and Linda's right in that "achieving what?" is kind of left up in the air, and the how?

Well, even the technicly challenged like myself manage to emower thought processes.

I'd start by giving young folks vocational training in today's electronic infrastructure so when they are 50 and counting like me, they won't be feeling too old and slow to keep up with technology.

New Mexico, USA
August 2, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

P.S. That's also spell-check challenged I might add...sorry 'bout the typos folks.

Hassanatu B.
United States
August 3, 2010

Hassanatu B. in the U.S.A. writes:

I believe this questions is being answered by some organizations that are looking to bridge the gap between the USA and African countries to improve communities. One of which is FOCAL POINT GLOBAL. It is a nonprofit organization using educational technology to connect and educate youth worldwide about social issues that will motivate social change. It pilot project used SKYPE to link youth from the US and NAMIBIA to discuss HIV's implication and how they can combat the disease in their respective communities. The youth are currently implementing the activities developed during their discussion.

Burton D.
California, USA
August 3, 2010

Burton D. in California writes:

President's Forum with Young African Leaders
with the participation of Taiwo Adewole, Co-Founder, Local ABC4All / Nigeria representing ABC4All - Washington, DC 08/03-05/2010

Sharing Current Programs Underway via
A Better Community For All (ABC4All):
ABC4All Portal4Relief:

Read More:

New York, USA
August 5, 2010

Ron in New York writes:

A picture is worth........

Look at the photo...a young African male surrounded by computer junk, working a soldering iron without a mask....this is the curse of technology for many youth around the world who seek a decent job and a good life...instead, they get junk-diseases and no basic healthcare.

August 6, 2010

Ravaoharisoa V.S. in Madagascar writes:

I enjoy that youth from United States and African nations would associate their experience to reduce poverty but it's too interesting and especially for me if you could extend this forum for all poverty young in africa and in madagascar who have many creative young.


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