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Yiaga Africa Holds Fair to Showcase Digital Innovations for Civic Engagement

As part of its efforts to increase civic engagement and citizen participation in democracy, Yiaga Africa has held a fair in Lagos on Wednesday to showcase digital innovations and technological tools that can catalyse the achievement of these objectives.

The Lagos Digital Democracy Fair, which was organised in collaboration with CivicHive and with the support of the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), brought together civic tech innovators and civil society organisations leveraging technology to deepen citizen engagement with government to exhibit their innovations.

A cross-section of participants at the Fair

Speaking at the Fair, The Director of Programmes Yiaga Africa, Cynthia Mbamalu, stated that the Digital Democracy Fair was designed to provide a platform to showcase civic tech innovations that promote education, demand for accountability and increase civic engagement.

She said: “Today, we have over 12 innovators who have tech solutions revolving around curbing misinformation, disinformation, fake news and protecting human rights or holding the government accountable for their promises.

“So, most of the tools showcased today are civic tech solutions that can promote civic education at the local, state, and federal level.

Cynthia Mbamalu, Director of Programmes, Yiaga Africa

“While most of the innovators at this fair are based in the south-western part of Nigeria, we intend to subsequently scale such an opportunity to the national level,” 

Also speaking at the Fair, the Head of Governance and Stability Block, British High Commission, Magdalene Lagu reiterated the need for the Nigerian government to further engage youths in accountability processes.

Lagu noted that it was necessary for the Nigerian government to intensify its effort by encouraging more youths to participate in democracy. She said that Nigeria, with most of its population on the young side, needed to be motivated, adding that government accountability was key to engaging them.

“It’s amazing to see the profound work digital innovators and change makers are doing. The most critical thing is that we see a lot of activities in the digital space and now we need to look at how we can get more young people to engage and transfer their work from digital platforms to the democratic arena,” she said.

“It is also important to engage with them on different levels of accountability and governance. Participation of a lot of youths in the general elections last year is a really good example of progress.

She also commended Yiaga Africa and CivicHive for promoting inclusion of people in Nigeria’s democratic processes. 

“We are beginning to witness the influence of technology and social media in really transforming political participation,” she said.

There were a total of eleven innovations that were exhibited at the Fair that ranged from addressing human rights abuses, increasing voter education using generative AI, and tracking government spending to tackling misinformation and increasing access to justice for citizens.

One of the exhibitors presenting her innovation at the Fair

The Fair also had officials from the Lagos Mainland Local Government Council and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), technology companies and citizen groups in attendance as they engaged with the innovators on their tools and technologies.

A participant asking a question during the exhibition

The innovators also received up to $60,000 of free credits from InfoBip, a technology company to use any of their solutions.

A representative from InfoBip

There was also a presentation by LEAP Africa, a non-governmental organization, which spoke about grant opportunities through their Nigeria Youth Futures Fund (NYFF). 

A representative from LEAP Africa at the event

The Lagos Digital Democracy Fair is implemented under the TurnUp Democracy project which is supported by the United Kingdom Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

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Yiaga Africa is a non-profit civic hub of change makers committed to the promotion of democratic governance, human rights and civic engagement.

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