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 12 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, Also we were not able to support the winners of the ideation session, as we were not able to support them financially, and technically. We found out that our community champions at Follow the Money needs a yearly community gathering (which was one of the theories 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 were 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!
“Amongst the 70 member countries of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), African countries has the most ambitious commitments, and also has the least number of implementations of their commitment as seen in the independent reporting mechanism but Nigeria can reverse that order as the country has made huge commitment at the London Corruption Summit and hopes to make it tandem with its anti-corruption campaign in the country” says Sanjay Pradhan during the first day of the OGP retreat in Nigeria on October 24, 2016 at the Hotel Seventeen in Kaduna .
The OGP CEO, Sanjay Pradhan making a presentation on OGP during the retreat in Nigeria
Looking at the panel to discuss commitments around the Nigeria OGP National Action Plan, I was deluded by the fact that the government representatives except for two, were not appropriate enough to discuss pertinent issues around beneficial ownership, open budget, open contracting, transparency in extractives, access to information, and open data. I quite understand that the people in authority, in this ministries are hard to get for such conversation, but if it were really a “government – driven initiative” we should be seeing them coming to talk about these issues in the public.
I would have expected to see Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning making commitments of publishing online, location – based infrastructure data with their baseline indicators (current state) to the public by December 2017, so this can aid better planning; also the out-spoken Funmi Adeosun, the Minister for Finance committing that “detailed” government spending will be made available to the public by default as from November 2017, and also that the Bureau of Public Procurement will upgrade their website to include procurement plans, tender notices, bid evaluation,contract award documents, and termination information, while connecting it to a citizen feedback platform that can help make sure projects are really been implemented by contractors.
Nevertheless, there were some takeaways from the panel Joe Abbah, of the Bureau of Public Service Reforms had stated that by 2019, all FOIA request will be responded to in 2 minutes! In – fact, they have started something that looks like that in the Bureau, if you want to request for an information from the government, [APPLY HERE] I am sure you are all looking forward to this, it might not be rocket science! Also, the representative from the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) mentioned that for beneficial ownership to work, the Corporate Affairs Commission and the Companies and Allied Matter Act must be amended immediately to disclose beneficial ownership of companies, and not just the publishing of company names that are registered with the CAC which anyways, is a step in the right direction.
Looking across the Panel of government + CSOs
But why does it take the government a longer time than the 7 days proposed in the law to get a response to an FOIA request, the representative from the Ministry of Budget and National Planning stated that the oath of secrecy signed by civil servants prevents most of them to disclose information requested for through the FOIA. That’s so unimaginable! However, Joe Abbah, stated clearly, that we need to amend the public service rules because civil servants abide by rules and not laws!
My worry is not that leadership in the executive arm of government would not come out and make commitments, my worry is that implementing such commitment on the basis of a system that would not allow it to work efficiently is the reality, and such is the case for most African countries. As much as this becomes a drawback for me in this “government – CSO “driven movement, I am certain that few positives might be recorded, as we have started seeing from the Ministry of Justice, the agent of the state where the OGP is domiciled in Nigeria.
So finally, after 3 years of intent, Nigeria got admitted into the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in July 2016 , a multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance while creating a platform for civil society organizations to collaborate with government institutions on ensuring transparency, accountability, citizen participation, and technology and innovation.
In view of this, I had to visit the city of Kaduna, to attend the CSO Day on Sunday, October 23 and the retreat with government institutions on Monday, October 24. The CSO day brought together civil society organisations from every part of the country to discuss the CSO draft national action plan and the future of CSO engagement with the OGP. One resounding issue during the day was coordination – not only amongst government agencies but also amongst the CSO, and a consensus was reached, that the Open Alliance continue to lead and coordinate CSO engagement for the actualization of the OGP in Nigeria.
A cross section of participants at the OGP CSO Day
It is expected that as part of the coordination, CSOs that focus on the values of OGP at the sub-national level can become responsible in that area once they have been admitted as a member of the Open Alliance, who presently has about 40 members intending to join it, and 10 members already. As OGP success hinges on partnership, trust and coordination, it will be important to “think strategically with coordination, find champions in the government and to be able to overcome the issue of partnership, you must trust the government and the government must trust the CSOs” as taken from the words of Maureen Kariuki, the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Regional Civil Society Coordinator for Africa and the Middle East.
One other take away from the CSO Day was the conversation around how to encourage citizen participation and government feedback, using the platform OGP has created. With many citizens platform in the country without government feedback, I think it will be relevant and mostly appreciated if the National Action Plan been drafted presently can include a coordinated citizen engagement platform, in which government agencies can commit to being part of, to offer timely responses and feedback to citizens, maybe, the Nairaland of citizen participation. Sanjay Pradhan, the CEO of OGP, mentioned an example of such platform to be Prozorro, in Ukraine, actually, I met the developers of this public e-procurement system in Madrid during the IODC.
With the present draft National Action Plan having 8 commitments by the government, spearheaded by the Ministry of Justice, we can only hope that CSOs focus on their strength, and become watchdogs of the implementation of such commitments, I mean, they have been doing same in their everyday activities – maybe this time with proper coordination and direction – no thanks to the OGP!