Empowering rural Africa using the freifunk model

Paul Henckel

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envisioning a thriving, connected future amidst conflict-struck Nigeria. Creating opportunities for rural women and youth, in a scalable, inclusive way.

###About the presenter
Paul Henckel from TribeGroup (DK-based) will share his thoughts and plans for an ongoing resilience project with Fantsuam (NG-based) in creating ICT coworking spaces for rural women and youths in Nigeria, using the knowledge from Freifunk communities.

###About TribeGroup
TribeGroup is a Danish impact investment startup with mission to support or invest in other companies, projects or initiatives that have a potentially high social or environmental impact. It currently directs WorkHive, a flexible, affordable, inclusive and carbon negative coworking space in Copenhagen. The collaboration with Nigerian-based Fantsuam tries to integrate best practices of Freifunk, Fantsuam and WorkHive to create a new coworking space in Kafanchan, Nigeria.

###About Fantsuam
Our Mission at Fantsuam Foundation (www.fantsuam.org) is to eliminate poverty and disadvantage among rural women and youths in Nigeria through integrated development programs. At our ICT Academy,In 22 years, we have empowered 12,000, and we aim to educate women and youths with relevant digital literacy skills to manage their development priorities, providing opportunities for girls to become developers and deploy ICT solutions for their livelihoods. Our services have become even more imperative as our communities come out of decade long cycles of sectarian violence. We plan to reach 25,000 more by 2020.

Community Network, is a resilient communication platform in which the community owns, manages and maintains its own communication infrastructure provides the opportunities for rural youths to gain the necessary hands-on experience. Fantsuam Foundation hosts the Google Developers Group in Kafanchan, this is another resource that is being deployed to provide ICT skills and knowledge opportunities for our youths.

We are now engaged in high level policy advocacy for affordable and available internet access for the unconnected in rural Nigeria. Obtaining the TVWS concession for the unconnected in Nigeria will begin to make for an inclusive national telecommunication effort. It is within that context that Fantsuam continues to support the increasing number of youths, particularly females, who now recognise the career opportunities available in ICT. Our ICT Academy provides basic digital literacy training and has expanded to provision of training in computer and network maintenance. In order to optimise the use of resources and make our services more accessible, we have located an office space in the Kafanchan Railway town where we would like to set up an ICT Co-Working space where budding entrepreneurs can have ready access to training and mentoring facilities, office space with assured power and internet access at affordable prices.

Our efforts at tackling poverty through an integrated approach has meant that we also provide social services in public health, menstrual health hygiene, sanitation marketing, peace building, entrepreneurship training supported by microfinance. We currently have 32 full time staff and a large pool of volunteers who are invited to join specific projects and programs, which are usually of short duration. Our work in peace building led us to build six new apartments for victims of recent sectarian crisis, and we continue to explore opportunities to enable our communities to resume their normal lives. Our model of farming cooperatives, called the TIME-AID, empowers individuals and families to engage in commercial farming with the goal of household food security, family health insurance, adequate housing and education for all our children.

Fantsuam Foundation’s integrated approach to develop has enabled it to have an inbuilt resilience to cope with the challenges of rural development, global economic challenges whose effects are usually more devastating at the base of the pyramid, while we continue to develop initiatives that helps the people to assert their humanity and freedom from poverty.