Nmachi Jidenma, Nigeria
Web 2.0 media encourages open interaction, individual participation and knowledge sharing; qualities that are capable of harnessing the power of the crowd to collate unique ideas for problem solving. With online sharing, the power of people working in concert increasingly can be harnessed – a technique that will inevitably lead to greater global ingenuity. For instance, Google’s Project 10 to the 100 last year succeeded in generating 150,000 ideas from people all around the world on ideas to change the world. The top 16 entries included ideas such as increasing young Africans’ access to quality education and building accessible tools capable of disseminating genocide-related mapping information. As such, now more than ever, the mandate for a global collaboration is real and doable, not just as a onetime project, but on a long-term, sustainable basis.
Celebrating Progress Africa was founded to harness that power. Through crowd sourcing, global online participation in solution providing for Africa can yield ideas that only the power of people thinking and working in concert can unleash. At Celebrating Progress Africa, we hope to launch the concept of sharing ideas, insights and expertise by focusing it on African problems. If people can come together to one central location online to contribute thoughts on solving many of the challenging problems that face the continent, the resultant contributions can produce ideas that are innovative and rich enough to initiate real impact. Implementation would be a key step to reaping the benefits but we are certain the site can first and foremost fill the gap in information sharing and idea sourcing. Imagine an Australian suggesting a practical and sustainable solution to rural electricity generation in an African country such as Nigeria or an Engineer in Mali suggesting a disease tracking system for preventing African epidemics and outbreaks. These suggestions can be nourished by providing an online space for collaborative thinking. Already such collaborative measures are being implemented through such initiatives as Ushahidi, an information portal which allows users to send in crisis information about relief efforts. Through Ushahidi, users through their contributions have been able to map violence in Eastern Congo and to track pharmacy stock outs in several East African countries.
A lot of people talk and write about reshaping the media’s portrayal of Africa and in re-directing the focus on Africa from the negative to the positive. The fastest way to do so would involve churning out (and implementing) solution after solution that fixes Africa’s problems. Celebrating Progress Africa aims to encourage this type of solutions based approach by encouraging participants to focus on solutions and positive ideas for Africa. We believe changing the conversation from problem deliberation to solution finding would help direct our collective focus and image of Africa to a higher place. The ideal conversation is one where Africa is not discussed as a problem spot but as a solution incubator. Where suddenly news of famine or war should not elicit analysis on the “problems with Africa” but on ways to make those problems history through critical thinking, open discussion and a focused emphasis on results.
The current Celebrating Progress Africa online web interface is a first step in our dream for open collaboration and knowledge sharing. Our vision is to create an African online idea/solutions bank that provides a space for cross-country participation across disciplines, ethnicity, race and geographical boundaries. By providing a space for African creativity, we hope to reshape the African story from one of hardship and strife to one of creativity, innovation and ingenuity.
Nmachi Jidenma is Founder of Celebrating Progress Africa.