For the youth of Africa, social networks, mobile media and digital applications have become tools to use in citizen action projects. In Africa, "hackathons" and other competitions for innovation are becoming increasingly popular and bring together developers, bloggers, community managers and journalists to work on projects of public interest, aimed at increasing transparency and strengthening democratic dialogue.
As access to the Internet becomes more widespread, in particular via mobile devices, the relationship between African citizens and their public administrations is also undergoing a transformation. Some countries have already taken the first steps towards opening up public information (open data).
The growing demand for citizen oversight of public actions and the explosion in online media therefore represent an unprecedented opportunity for young committed Africans to innovate in the field of citizen action and tackle the challenges facing their countries. In order for them to make the most of their role as agents of change, the Citizen Connections project is aimed at identifying these young people with high potential and supporting them as they develop and continue their projects on a more professional basis.
15 young Africans with innovative ideas relating to citizenship
The project will begin with a 6-week online session for 30 participants selected following the call for applications. These online activities will in particular tackle issues relating to project positioning, collaboration, pitching and mobilisation.
This first stage will allow the Citizen Connections trainers to assess each participant's motivations and their ability to work as part of a team, in order to help them to select the 15 people who will continue with the programme.
CFI's "Citizen Connections" project is looking for young connected citizens active in the defence and promotion of democratic values in Africa.
In August, we called on young connected citizens active in the defence and promotion of democratic values in Africa to apply for a place in our Citizen Connections project.
After six weeks of online work carried out by the 30 participants selected following the call for applications to the Citizen Connections project, half of them will be given the chance to continue their training in Paris, Dakar and Abidjan.
During a stay in Paris, 15 participants will continue the training. They will benefit from topic-based workshops, led by experts, relating to the democratic, digital, community, media and business challenges facing citizen projects.
They will also learn about different methodologies and project management tools.
On these bush camps, the participants will be taken to a rural area with no Internet access for two days, in order to find – together – concrete solutions to the problems identified in a basic community and obtain user feedback in relation to their individual projects, helping them to optimise their approach.
On 13 and 14 April 2017, as part of the Connexions Citoyennes programme, 15 people with experience in project managing social initiatives, from around ten African countries, came to Malika, Senegal, to immerse themselves in a rural area.
Alongside the high-intensity Paris kick-starter meeting and the bush camps, online activity sessions will also be provided. The participants will be encouraged to discuss ideas amongst themselves, and with the trainers, via video chats throughout the project.
The final seminar is aimed at giving the projects a final boost. Over the course of a 4-day "hackathon", the participants will be given personalised support according to their needs and will have the opportunity to receive targeted advice from a team of expert mentors. The last day will be set aside for a competition.
A panel will assess the pitches of the 15 participants and award prizes to the most convincing projects.
In the week running from 18 to 22 September 2017, the 15 participants from eight countries in French-speaking Africa will be in Paris to give their projects a final boost.
Here is the personal account of Tidiani Togola (Mali), one of the participants in the Citizen Connections project.
Here is the personal account of Cyrielle Raingou (Cameroon), one of the participants in the Citizen Connections project.