Les Villageois 2.0: highlighting the benefits and dangers of information technologies

Les Villageois 2.0: highlighting the benefits and dangers of information technologies

September 21, 2017

Here is the personal account of Sally Bilaly Sow (Guinea), one of the participants in the Citizen Connections project.

« Les Villageois 2.0 (The Villagers 2.0) is a physical and virtual community that aims to make young people more aware of both the opportunities presented and dangers posed by new technologies, in order to promote human rights and the citizen-led control of public initiatives. My basic premise is straightforward: today, every young person has a mobile phone and is always connected to social network sites. How can we benefit from this permanent connection?

My starting idea was clear in terms of content and how it would be developed. However, the many meetings organised by CFI as part of the Citizen Connections initiative made me realise just how crucial it was to involve the end users when rolling out my project, and to therefore develop it with and for them.

My project thus became more refined as CFI's training courses went along, in which I learnt to structure my action plan and increase my social leadership, which is pivotal to any citizen initiative. I was quickly able to bring together a close-knit and energetic team of forty people, and transform Les Villageois 2.0 into a genuine association. Since then, we have deployed the project on the largest social network sites in the country, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Dailymotion and Instagram. These platforms are excellent podiums for promoting our actions and training courses and for spreading our web content. A dedicated editorial team is also working on a content production schedule, in which all the articles, videos and photos posted by our members will be put together.

Alongside that, and still within the scope of our overall objectives, we have already successfully implemented several digital initiatives. These include the #NetSchoolTour initiative, which attracted large numbers during its pilot edition, bringing together around forty students from a secondary school in Labé for a discussion session focusing on the use of information and communication technologies, and an introduction to blogging. We were particular struck by how little those young citizens knew about the laws governing cybersecurity and the protection of personal data. Many of them appeared to be surprised by the sheer numbers of digital threats that exist and how they can be warded off. Others were also attracted by the career opportunities that the Internet has to offer, and the possibility of becoming a web entrepreneur.

This first positive experience has reassured us of the worth of our project. We are therefore planning to organise more editions of #NetSchoolTour, in partnership with several schools in the country and NGOs.

In a further act of solidarity, Les Villageois 2.0 is heavily involved in the 'SOS numérique' (Digital SOS) project: a citizen-led initiative launched to provide aid to a young child from a poor family who has been diagnosed with cancer. Thanks to the support given by several Internet users hailing from the region who have since emigrated to the United States, this project has made it possible to transfer the child from his village to a hospital in the capital city of Conakry, lying over 450 kilometres away!

In early August, our Les Villageois 2.0 team met up with the first contributors of our platform at the museum in Fouta. We already have much content at our disposal, including three slam videos, a video on citizenship and personal accounts from homeless children, and are now working on the next batch.The platform will be officially launched in early September."