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Over 65 participants: religious leaders and young people, from across the Niger and the Sahel met in Niamey to participate in the first TechCamp Program of the International Information of the State Department,  in partnership with the National Youth Council, focused on the fight against violent extremism.

The two-day workshop included a fully interactive session with leading technology experts from across Africa, Europe, and the USA as trainers with local leaders to strengthen digital capacity and co-create solutions to real world challenges.

The event kicked off with a welcome remark by Ambassador Eunice S. Reddick, the US ambassador to Niamey, who disclosed that it was a camp for youth and religious leaders to share their skills and expertise, and develop dynamic strategies to counter extremist messages and promote peace and tolerance.

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The opening remarks was followed by a “speed – geeking” session, a fast paced project presentation where each trainer spoke for 5-minutes on how he used Social Media to sensitize and mobilize the public. The participants were broken down into smaller groups and spent 5 minutes at each stand listening to each trainer.

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It was then followed by topics which included:
1. your audience into a community by Jamila Fagge from Voice of America Radio Hausa
2. Multimedia story Telling by Gino Hadji – A presenter and producer with Canal 3 Niger TV
3. Storytelling for Radio by Inne Kaka Moussa from Equal Access Radio
4. Social Radio for Religious Leaders by Shiek Bourama Dauoda
5. Digital Skills for job seekers by Oussama Abdelah Benhmida from LabNet – Morocco showed how 10,000 youths can be employed by learning skills like infographics making, creating digital contents etc
6. Mobile App Development by Mamadou Drame, Digital School Technologies and Mandela Washington Fellow ( YALI)
7. Connectivity, Computing access in rural areas by Ali Karim Alio, Nova Technologies, Mandela Washington (YALI)
8. Community Mapping by Orsoly Ajenei, PDEV. The Mapping for Niger which involved about thirty Geography students in mapping their communities that largely lack geographic data, and using social media to talk about the life in Niger.
9. Digital Media Strategies for Advocacy by Daouda Hamadou, NOVATECH Houssein Abil, L’Incubateur CIPMEN
10. Video Production by Sopien Ben-Achour from “Search for Common Ground”.

The first day ended with a session where the participants and the trainers developed a “Challenge statement”.

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The second day kicked off with Networking, discussion of problem statements/challenges, brainstorming sessions of Day 1, with small group work on identifying solutions, small group problem definition refinement and action planning. I was opportune to be part of the team that worked on “How to use Information Technology(IT) as tools of communication and/for conflict resolution”.

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Interesting and educative camps like this would not have been complete without dinners like the one at Hotel Gaweye hosted by Ambassador Eunice Reddick with all the great TechCamp Niamey committee, Trainers and participants. Many thanks to Hon Ahmed Bachaka, and my happy friends from Mauritania (Morocco), Hungary, USA, Senegal etc who made my two day in Niamey pleasant.

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