Connected Development [CODE] has won the ONE Africa 2016 Award recognizing, rewarding, and advancing the exceptional work of organisations, founded by Africans and based in Africa, dedicated to helping Africa achieve the Sustainable Development Goals
It’s initiative, Follow The Money, the largest volunteer grassroots movement on transparency and accountability in Africa, emerged winner among three finalists, presented by Bono, the lead singer of the UK group U2, and co-founder of ONE Campaign, during the Mo Ibrahim Foundation Governance forum, that was held on Saturday, April 8, 2017 in Marrakech, Morocco.
The Chief Executive of Connected Development, Hamzat Lawal on behalf of the organization, received the award. The Award highlights the dynamism and achievements of African groups and organisations that are building a better future for their communities, countries and continent. “We are super excited to be the recipient of this award and also thankful to ONE Campaign for this great opportunity. This Award restates the continental belief in our rural development works. This we warmly appreciate. And ultimately, this is timely and will be exceedingly utilitarian in broadening our continental impacts through facilitating development in marginalized communities, as well as empowering them to stand up and hold their leaders accountable.” said Lawal who also doubles as the Co-Founder of Follow The Money.
The 2017 Governance Forum which focused on violent extremism and migration, participation and democracy, inclusive economic growth and jobs for youth. brought together various thought leaders in Africa and the World at Large including the Emir of Kano, HRH Sanusi Lamido Sanusi; the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Amina J. Mohammed; Former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan; Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, Former Finance Minister, Okonjo Iweala, Africa Development Bank President, Akinwunmi Adeshina, among other dignitaries.
For any press enquiries
Connected Development [CODE] is a non-government organization [NGO] whose mission is to improve access to information and empower local communities in Africa. Our initiative, Follow The Money advocate, visualize and track government spending and international aid spending in rural communities.
The most important factor for economic development is not capital, but appropriate policies and institutions
If Nigeria’s population is the 7th largest in the world, and we really, want to grow, then we must not be doing 7.29 trillion Naira, as our budget (Just before you say, it’s only the federal budget, even if you average what the state, and local government present, as budget, it is still not worth it). That’s a paltry 23.9 billion dollars, see below, what the top 10 countries with the highest population, budget for their citizens, at the “federal” level. Coming down home to Africa, Angola with a population of 25 million, has a budget of 38.53 billion dollars. I will advise we start thinking about reducing our population growth – 2 per woman will be most reasonable, at this time, if we “really” want to grow! Japan has done it before, and I am saying, there is no reason why we cannot grow within this top 10 populated countries, it will take time, but we must be decisive, and serious!
2015 budget estimates for other countries are from the Central Intelligence Agency World Fact Book. The Nigeria Budget estimate is the 2017 proposed figure in the appropriation bill.
In the breakdown of the Nigeria 2017 budget, it is expected that only 30.7% will be available for the provision of basic amenities and infrastructures – health facilities, schools, roads, water, while about 40% will be provided for overhead expenses – salaries, travels, office expenses et al. The success of any business in the world lies in its people, and I also mean PEOPLE working in the various government institutions – executive, legislature and judiciary. Ideally, their business is to implement government agenda, policies, projects and programme, but in Nigeria, their performance is appalling. Although this sector employs a larger percentage of employed people, the numbers cannot account for the value it can create. Just as the numbers of ministries were reduced by the Buhari led government, can it also “significantly” reduce the number of people in the public sector, so as to reduce overhead expenses to 20% of the government budget. All Joe Abbah, and the bureau of public service reforms need do, to perform effectively, is to embrace technology and uphold strict staff performance management (and just before you will say, where should the retrenched go – read my blog, on the rice economy or get to the last paragraph). In Nigeria, most people in the public service which comprise of the executive, legislative, and judiciary in federal, state and local government, got to the position, in the spirit of “clientelism”. “They have just finished recruiting in the Nigeria Police, but leave story, they only chose senators, house of reps families and you know the oga at the tops people” affirmed my friend in the Nigeria Police. This needs to stop if we really want to grow!
Many developed and developing countries are still working towards linking performance to public expenditures framework or strategy. If these linkages are not made, there will be no way to determine if the budgetary allocations that the support programs are ultimately supporting are successful. On a lighter mood, I must thank the Budget Office for publishing actual money received by government agencies for capital expenditures (actually there is an open data version of it here), but we should not be thankful for seeing that except, we want to stay like Angola, if we want to grow like Malaysia, we should be publishing tangible outcomes the expenditures in the agencies are achieving. In essence, we should stop the line – item kind of budgeting, and adopt the result-based budgeting system. For instance, if Nigeria needs to produce the 4,700,000 million tonnes of rice, that china imports every year, the Ministry of Budget and National Planning can have an overhead budget from the Ministry of Agriculture for only the number of people that will implement that through a policy paper, coordination and regulation, as they will not be the one to work on the farm. Simple as ABC right? yes! but do you have the political will – (To be continued) in my other story on Nigeria and its National Planning.
In 2016 alone, I have attended three re – learning workshops and this was the third, in Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa. This was my first time in South Africa, and nothing can be more exciting to be finishing the year re-energized, and ready to get 2017 cracking! I have been looking forward to the 3 – day workshop which started on November 28 – 30, 2016 at the Michelangelo Hotel, just because the last 4 months at CODE for me, has been dedicated to our growth strategies, and I know this workshop might affirm or deny various strategies that we have put in place to take the organization forward. Just to state, the 3 days were worth it, and I totally feel ready to get going in 2017, and below are the five things I really feel every entrepreneur should take cognizance of:
- Start Organizations to cede the controls: You need to have it at the back of your mind that you are not the owner of any organization you have founded. In Africa and some south Asian countries, many people start businesses and want to hold on to the business, and not cede control of the organization. You should be thinking of exiting the organization in the nearest future, so you can take an advisory role. It will also give you the reality of how the organization you have started looks like in the eyes of clients, beneficiaries and customers. Furthermore, organizations that have their creators, founders, and owners give up the role of CEOs and role of the board become successful, and become a big enterprise.
- Hire people that can take the organization to the next level: Once you have tested your product at the early stage ( 2 – 3 years), and it has worked, and you are now thinking of recruiting or adding more people to your venture, please hire people who are more knowledgeable than you do. In Africa, owners of businesses still bring in their families and friends, who cannot fit into the culture of your business (who are not capable), into the business at the early stage, thus stunting the growth of the business.
- Plan long term relationship before you recruit: If you rely on hiring through candidates sending CV’s to you, and interviews alone, then you might be wrong, as there are now books and videos that teach how to write excellent CVs, and also websites that hep candidates prepare for interviews . At CODE, we stopped recruiting this way, as 85% of the recruits end up not fitting into the culture and ideologies that the organization share. We found out that most recruits cannot cope with the task at hand, as such, we rely on a 6 – month internship period before you can become a core team in our organization.
- Develop yourself faster than your business: As an entrepreneur, you need to grow yourself, even at a faster pace than your business. 95% of people that starts businesses do not understand all stages of growth of their business, and because the kind of approach and thinking for each stage of the business is different, you need to learn more about managing business performance against targets; managing individual performance and growth; how to build and lead an effective board; frequent strategic planning for your business; building processes and business infrastructure to support future business scale and complexity; growing your human capital in line with business needs; prioritize and plan for the most important things, so you can balance work and family.
- Avoid scope creep, Focus on developing that one product: For you to achieve the four points with ease, you need to focus on one product, at a time. It takes a time to be good at one thing, so you must dedicate all your time to building that one thing that people like your organization about. It is better to be number one in one thing than to be number 2 in four different areas. This allows you to have time in design thinking of your product, also gives your staff the time to focus on specific tasks and become a perfectionist on it over time. Products such as Facebook, Apple, Microsoft had one thing their founders were thinking of – “improving on their one product, and making it better”.
These and other great learnings at the 3-day workshop was very useful, especially at this stage of growth for CODE itself. As someone that has been facilitating training in the past 10 years, I was impressed with the simplicity of the sequence of the presentation and great facilitation skills exhibited by Jason Goldberg, and the exceptional informational manual created by 10X-e. Omidyar Network‘s idea of human capital, aside the financial capital invested in investees, is a laudable idea, because many times, we all start businesses, ventures, etc without understanding the nitty – gritty or what comes up in the next 7 years, much reason why it is only 5% of start – ups that make it to becoming big enterprise. To all entrepreneurs amongst us, let’s keep grinding and learning – it’s the only thing we can do!
[ALL PICTURES FROM THIS EVENT CAN BE FOUND AT https://flic.kr/s/aHskMb4xkV ]
It’s the 3rd year in a row of the Connected Development [CODE]’s Open Data Party, and truly, I feel we can do more and better, especially as the community keeps growing. Since 2013, the community of participants, and enthusiasts has grown from 0 in 2013 to 837 in 2016. Wondering what the numbers are – it’s the numbers of participants that have attended our quarterly data training where we teach skills and tools in making data meaningful and useful. At this year large event, we had 122 participants and out of 42 respondents (of our evaluation), 59.5% and 33.3% rated all aspects of the 2 – day hands – on training as excellent and good respectively, while 7.1% rated it has average.
So for so many people, that never knew how the ODP came to eHealth Africa, in Kano, it was our decision to take it to the North West at first, after moving it from the North Central in 2014 to South-South in 2015. We never knew who will help host it this time, but fortunately, during one of my August Break, I caught up with one of my senior colleagues – Lucy Chambers, who invited me for a drink in Maitama. With her colleagues at work, our chit chat mentioned ODP, and she said we should explore the opportunity of eHealth Africa hosting the event. Just some minutes after she mentioned that, I remembered how Michael Egbe, in 2014, after the ODP in Abuja, had discussed that we should consider the possibility of hosting this event together with eHealth Africa. I knew this was just it – Many thanks to Anu Parvatiyar, who took the email conversation forward, but unfortunately, could not attend as she was in Maiduguri, as one of the team responding to the recent Polio outbreak in Borno State.
This year event was a little bit different from the past ones in that I did less of control – no thanks to eHealth Africa, and the team that came in from CODE who took their various spaces in handling logistics, accommodation, social media, and the rest; also, we focused mainly on skills and tool shares – a total of 9 skills with 12 tool usage were shared in 14 hours during the 2 – day event; we also scrapped the ideation session which we had last year, as we found out that for us to be able to support ideas, we will need 6 months of mentorship before the winner can execute the plan, and make use of the seed grant effectively – for those that were looking forward to this, we are sorry, we want to focus on sharing the use of tools and skills; We found out that our community champions at Follow the Money needs a yearly community gathering (which was one of the theory of change for Follow The Money), as such we gave more hours to a Follow The Money session, Next year we might have a whole day of community gathering!
The first day witnessed sessions from What data and open Data is – the only session I was able to facilitate, while data pipelines were taken by Precious Onaimo, the current school of data fellow in Nigeria. It was always exciting to see the World Cafe facilitation style been used for one hour each for each session that has Data Scraping tools taken by Precious Onaimo and myself; Mapping using Open Streetmaps by eHealth Africa; Analysing and Creating dashboards with Microsoft Excel by eHealth Africa; Mobile collection of data, and data design by Nonso Jideofor of Reboot. The skill session continued on the second day, and skill session included visualising data with Tableau and CartoDB by eHealth Africa, Analysing data with Microsoft Excel by eHealth Africa. Participants commented on how educative most of the sessions were, but would have been helpful if training materials had been available to them before the start of the event.
The skill session continued on the second day, and skill session included visualizing data with Tableau and CartoDB by eHealth Africa, Analysing data with Microsoft Excel by eHealth Africa. It was followed by a 3 – hours Follow The Money session where new thinkings about the movement was discussed. Some of the key discussions were the role of community reporters in building their various communities as the movement now has a community champion in all the 36 states and the FCT. Also, the new platform for citizen engagement and participation was unveiled for the community input. The afternoon session of the day was started by eHealth Africa sharing Why they Map, and why mapping is important, it was followed by a community mapping of Chibok, Borno State to make participants gain skills on mapping their own community as well.
So have you heard about the Colorado Springs? Our team members – Emmanuel Njoku and Babatunde Adegoke are there to observe the United States Presidential Elections in Colorado, on the auspices of Ford Foundation, Independent Republican Institute and the Institute of International Education. On November 7, 2016, They met the Chairman and CEO of El Pomar Foundation – William J. Hybl and his team of very cool people hosted them to a luncheon alongside Secretary of State of Colorado – Wayne Williams, and some wonderful young observers from South Africa, Botswana and Namibia at the prestigious Penrose House in Colorado Springs, where they discussed Leadership, Democracy, Governance and the November 8, 2016, presidential elections and processes that have been put in place to ensure that the polls is credible and trusted by all.
From right, Colorado Secretary of State, Emmanuel Njoku, Tunde Adegoke and a state representative during a meeting on November 4 at the Broadway
Interestingly, they were informed that the State of Colorado has about 3.5million registered voters, and about 2.6million of these people are expected to vote, of which 2 million of these votes have already been cast, which simply means that just about 600,000 persons will be voting during the elections today across the 64 Counties(LGA) of Colorado. So that you know, you can cast your vote 21 days before the real election day!
This early voting practised in the state of Colorado will completely eliminate all the pressure that usually will be witnessed on a typical election day. This brings me back to Nigeria, where elections are held in one day, and the economy of the whole country is put to a halt, due to the elections. Perhaps, the Independent National Electoral commission (INEC) should take a cue, and leverage technology to make voting possible even before the election day.
Group picture of African Observers meeting with the Secretary of State of Colorado at the El Pomar Foundation
That sounds like a pinch of salt, right? if INEC is to achieve this feat, it must yield to a whole change management system which should be initiated by the leadership of INEC. Again, I will not subscribe to lack of funds as an excuse, INEC only needs few dedicated experts that can always look up to the leadership for unflinching support in providing a methodology and system that allows for early voting. Unfortunately, I just remembered, INEC is still struggling with the registration of voters like myself, while you can register on the day of elections in the state of Colorado – See you in 2019!