Oluseyi Ojurongbe, Manager, Sahara Foundation
Lagos, Nigeria August 14, 2019 – As the world marks the 20th International Youth Day, Sahara Foundation, the vehicle for Sahara Group’s Personal and Corporate Social Responsibility (PCSR) initiatives, has reiterated its dedication to promoting inclusive education through formal and informal interventions.
Sahara Foundation promotes the implementation of projects that drive sustainable development across its locations in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
Speaking on the 2019 United Nations International Youth Day 2019 themed, “Transforming Education,” Oluseyi Ojurongbe, Manager, Sahara Foundation said enhancing access to formal and informal education is critical for effective youth empowerment across the globe.
He said Sahara Foundation plans to increase the scholarships awarded to underserved communities in Nigeria as well as projects targeted at empowering social entrepreneurs in Cote d’Ivoire, Tanzania and Ghana who are contributing to the sustainable development of their communities.
“We remain committed to supporting young people by creating platforms that provide an enabling environment for the development of self-sustaining initiatives with a focus on capacity building, wealth creation and preservation,” Ojurongbe said.
The International Youth Day is an awareness day designated by the United Nations to draw attention to cultural and legal issues surrounding the youth. This year’s edition is focused on making education more inclusive and accessible for all youths, including efforts by the youth themselves.
The theme stems from Goal 4 of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which is to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.
Sahara Foundation has over the last 15 years undertaken various projects to enhance education across several locations where it operates.
The projects range from library upgrade, scholarship programmes for students in the north-east region of Nigeria, career counselling for teens in Singapore, to upgrade of classroom facilities in Ghana, renovation of the ICT Laboratory and donation of computers with internet access at the University of Juba, South Sudan.
Other Sahara Foundation education and youth based interventions include: Partnership with Ashesi University on the Ashesi Innovation Experience (AIX) Programme for 200 teens across Africa over the past two years; Career Guidance and vocational skills training in Nigeria, Ghana and Cote d’ Ivoire; and Construction, upgrade and refurbishment of youth vocational centers in Nigeria, Ghana, Zambia and Tanzania·
Sahara Foundation through its recent partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is making significant steps to promote access to clean and affordable energy which will in-turn improve societal well- being. It is also expected that the partnership will facilitate capacity building opportunities in renewable energy for youths across Cote d’ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria.
Siemens: Setting the Pace for Good Corporate Citizenship in Nigeria
Siemens Nigeria CEO, Onyeche Tifase
Nigeria has the largest economy in Sub Saharan Africa driven by growth in agriculture, telecommunications, and services. It is however predominantly reliant on oil as its main source of foreign exchange earnings and government revenues. The Oil and Gas sector accounts for about 80% of total government revenues and 90% of export earnings. As Africa’s biggest exporter of oil, although Nigeria is well-positioned as a key regional economic player, socio-economic development has been constrained by inadequate power supply, insecurity, illegal cross-border trading, declining infrastructure, restrictive trade policies, prohibitive regulatory environment as well as pervasive corruption in the judiciary, legislature and other government agencies.
Over the years, the burden of responsibility for meeting these challenges eventuated by socio-economic development have fallen on businesses in Nigeria. The Organized Private Sector in Nigeria works collaboratively with key stakeholders to identify and prioritize initiatives which deliver sustainable value especially in the areas of environmental stewardship, healthcare, education, economic empowerment, capacity building and infrastructure development.
There are varying methodologies of engagement including charitable activities and contributions. However, some companies have expanded beyond this narrow perspective by the integration of socially responsible practices into their core operations. Therein lies the relevance and value of the Siemens Business to Society (B2S) initiative.
Siemens support for sustainable development in Nigeria is driven by their widely acclaimed model Business to Society initiative which is focused on achieving societal, economic and environmental advancements in the following areas: economic development, environmental sustainability, developing local jobs and skills, providing value-adding innovation, improving quality of life, and positive societal transformation.
Defining the Siemens “Business to Society” model, CEO, Siemens Nigeria, Onyeche Tifase said, “Our ‘Business to Society’ initiative represents the multidimensional ways we approach creating real value in the lives of Nigerians and Nigerian communities.”
“At Siemens, we appreciate how critical it is for businesses to impact on their stakeholders and society in a positive and sustainable manner. We are proud of our heritage and business in Nigeria, but beyond profits, we measure our success in the broader context of the significant value we have added over the last 50 years” she affirmed.
Since 1970, Siemens’ technology, products and services have contributed to driving the Nigerian economy. According to the latest Business to society (B2S) report prepared by Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC), in 2019 alone, Siemens contributed a total of $562.5mn in Gross Value add (directly and indirectly) to Nigeria’s GDP through constructive engagement with industries especially in the Oil & Gas, Manufacturing and utilities sectors.
The B2S report also reveals that Siemens technology has contributed 9% to Nigeria’s operational power generation installed capacity. Furthermore, the widely acclaimed partnership agreement between Siemens and the Federal Government for the Presidential Power Initiative (PPI) is set to upgrade the electricity grid network and increase operational capacity from 4,500 MW on an average currently, to 25,000 megawatts (MW). According to Tifase “This is a demonstration of our commitment at Siemens to make significant investments in providing value-adding initiatives to address challenges in Nigeria’s power sector”.
Siemens Nigeria remains a strong partner to the Nigerian government in developing local jobs and skills. The company has positively impacted employment with an estimated number of 48,000 jobs linked to Siemens’ business operations in Nigeria.
Furthermore, as part of their commitment to shaping societal transformation, Siemens is taking a leading role in supporting the government’s commitment to fight corruption and improve transparency in the public and private sector. The B2S report stated that Siemens Integrity Initiative (SII) has invested about $1.29mn in Nigeria to promote anti-corruption practices through capacity building and training. Says Tifase “Our social investment programmes have been designed to achieve the highest levels of stakeholder resonance and maximal benefits to the society”.
In addition to these initiatives, Siemens is ideally positioned to meet their goals of improving the quality of life for Nigerians and ensuring environmental sustainability through their partnerships and active participation in initiatives that will provide access to quality healthcare for up to 100,000 Nigerians and achieve a net-zero carbon footprint by 2030.
As an international company present in Nigeria over the last 50 years, Siemens has played a vital role in addressing Nigeria’s socio-economic challenges to ensure an ever-improving society for Nigerians today and future generations. “Siemens is fully aware of the imperative for businesses to impact positively on society and we remain passionately committed to the socio-economic development of Nigeria” Tifase concluded.
World Humanitarian Day 2020: A Tribute to Real Life Heroes
Onyeka Akpaida, Rendra Foundation Women in the Kuchingoro IDP camps (Image Source: Onyeka Akpaida)
“You have not started living until you start giving”-Onyeka Akpaida
The humanitarian crisis has always existed and sometimes when it is not close to home; it is easy to ignore. The Covid-19 pandemic is definitely one that has in a morbid way, united us globally.
In the face of this global pandemic, increased poverty and growing insecurity, humanitarians and front-line workers are going beyond their duty call to make life bearable for those who have been most affected by the pandemic and insecurity crisis.
Many of us grew up watching cartoons and movies of action heroes like Voltron, Captain America etc and we all strived in our imaginations to be like them because they were super cool; however, the front line workers and humanitarians knee-deep in responding to this pandemic are definitely the Heroes worth celebrating today as their needs, pains and challenges have taken a back seat to serving others in need.
Let me introduce you to some of our real-life heroes:
Dr Marie-Roseline, a field coordinator with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and an epidemiologist has a first- hand experience in fighting epidemics under harrowing conditions. She led her team during the Ebola response in the Democratic Republic of the Congo amid a series of violent attacks and this year, WHO sent Marie to the Central African Republic (CAR) to help set up the COVID-19 response.
“Here in CAR we have a health crisis in the middle of a protracted humanitarian crisis,” she explains. “We have to build a health system while dealing with an emergency. It makes it very complicated. As doctors, we have committed ourselves to save lives. This is what we do. We cannot leave people to die.”
Nkem Okocha, a social entrepreneur and founder of fintech social enterprise Mamamoni Nigeria went above and beyond for low-income women living in rural and urban slum communities in Lagos state. During the lockdown, Nkem and her team gave relief food packages to these women week after week, putting their safety on the line. As the lockdown gradually eased up, they launched a COVID 19 emergency grant for female micro-entrepreneurs whose businesses were negatively impacted by the pandemic. The grant would help them restart their businesses.
Adaora “Lumina” Mbelu started an accountability group- The Switch-On Bootcamp in April 2020 to teach enhance focus and productivity; ensuring that people could still execute their ideas in the middle of the pandemic. Since its inception in April 2020, the Bootcamp has hosted 2 cohorts and helped over 200 ‘Tribers”. The best part of this story is the group decided to do a Fund-The-Flow campaign as part of their team project aimed at providing sanitary products to adolescent girls and women in underserved communities in Nigeria.
“Given the priority to food distribution during the pandemic, sanitary needs are ignored and it is important for these women to manage their menstruation and associated hygiene with dignity and ease”
They have given out over 6,000 sanitary pads across 12 communities in Nigeria and they intend to continue this campaign.
The WIMBIZ group and Rendra Foundation focused on forcibly displaced women and their families in Northern Nigeria. The WIMBIZ group and Rendra Foundation provided food palliatives to 290 women in the Durumi IDP camp and 130 Women in the Kuchingoro IDP camps respectively.
Today, World Humanitarian Day, I join the rest of the world to applaud and honour every one working in their little corner of the world, going through extraordinary lengths to help the most vulnerable people whose lives have been upended by COVID-19 pandemic. Your response through commitment, sacrifice and tenacity has gone a long way in managing the increase in humanitarian needs triggered by this global pandemic.
Author: Onyeka Akpaida is a financial service professional with 9+ years of experience in financial inclusion, consumer-centric digital banking and public sector engagement in a top tier leading International Bank and the founder of Rendra Foundation where she works to promote financial inclusion for low-income and migrant women in northern Nigeria.
African Women in GIS (AWiGIS)- Our Story
African Women in GIS (AWiGIS) is a community of African women around the world who either study, work or are interested in the geospatial industry. This community was borne out of the desire of two young women, Cyhana Williams from Ghana and Chidimma Umeogu from Nigeria, to create an association that fostered community and encouraged other African women to pursue GIS careers. They also sought to display the application prospects of the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) field for Africa.
The community’s major objective is to create a forum that gives women of African descent (whether living in Africa or in the diaspora) the freedom to create connections, gain mentors, learn new skills, access education in GIS-related schools as well as job-related advice and opportunities.
The African Women in GIS community first started out as two separate country groups. Chidimma created her group on 29th July, 2017 for Women in GIS- Nigeria whiles Cyhana formed hers in April, 2019 called Women in GIS – Ghana. Together, these groups had members who were students and workers in the GIS field. It was a little tough garnering women in Ghana since the visibility and awareness of GIS was low. Thus, some students especially women who studied GIS in their undergraduate studies switched to a different career path after graduation due to the difficulty in getting a sustainable GIS job.
In June 2019, Chidimma and Cyhana met on LinkedIn and discussed their efforts in creating platforms for women in their individual countries. This led to a conversation of collaboration and increasing the group coverage to pan the entire African continent. Hence, the genesis of the African Women in GIS community on October 2019. It started out with forty-one (41) Nigerian members, a member from Burkina Faso and eleven (11) Ghanaian members. Nigeria is the group’s headquarters country with Ghana as the second.
Members were encouraged to invite other women with the same interests or practice to join the group. The founders researched and reached out to women on LinkedIn who were in the same field. As time went on, members became acquainted with one another and shared their views on how the community should progress with their ideas for activities. Connections groomed and the group became larger.
In January 2020, the African Women in GIS was introduced to the rest of the world. It launched its social media platforms (LinkedIn and Twitter) and used these platforms to reach out to more women. The platform also highlights the profiles of members in order to motivate other women who are practicing, studying or just enthusiastic about GIS. By the end of January 2020, AWiGIS had reached about one thousand (1,000) followers on LinkedIn and two hundred (200) followers on Twitter with over one hundred (100) members in its member group.
By February of 2020, the founders engaged a few members of the group as volunteers as well as a secretary who assist in the task of creating content and planning group activities in order to improve the member and public engagement. In May 2020, AWiGIS gained about 2,500 followers on LinkedIn with almost 200 active members from Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, South Africa, Zambia , Kenya Cameroon and the Diaspora. It also launched its membership transition to Slack where a variety of channels for members to discuss, share relevant information and host tutorial activities operates efficiently. Although membership is strictly for women, other activities are open to the public.
In all enthusiasm and excitement, we have a number of activities planned out for the next few months as well as into the future. Members of the community proposed some activities whilst others were opportunities gotten from key individuals and organizations who reached out to the community.
For starters, AWiGIS has an upcoming volunteering project with Ibisa Network – an Organization that aims to aid small-scale farmers with satellite images of their farms to help them get insurance covers. The community collaborates with Ibisa Network by providing the AWiGIS members a volunteering opportunity with Ibisa where they will be assessing satellite images of farmlands. Through this volunteering project, the members get to add this work experience to their CVs as well as other incentives.
After the pandemic, AWiGIS plans to encourage the members to host outreach programs to schools and other groups. There, the members will help educate students about GIS and show them some impressive visualizations of GIS application as well as some roles of this technology in the real world. In addition, the official AWiGIS website will be launched and it will serve as a platform to display African GIS applications. It will also be a job recruitment site for geospatial roles in Africa.
We are excited about the various plans we have in place for the community, Africa and for the world at large. Follow us, join us and view the geospatial world through the eyes of African Women.
Author: Esther Moore