Tech Camp Opening Remarks By Russell Brooks Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Consulate General

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Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is my pleasure to join you for the opening of today’s Tech Camp Reconnect.

First, let me thank the CcHUB, our implementing partner, for helping to mount this three-day program, they have put in a yeoman’s effort to ensure that this event goes smoothly.

I would like to welcome Meredith Gloger and Bertha McDuffie, our colleagues from the Bureau of International Information Programs who are the brains behind this workshop.

I must also thank all of the trainers, the Consulate staff, and the members of the media who are covering today’s event. We appreciate you.

Now for the visiting participants, the alumni of the previous Tech Camps, all of you, from different African countries – Niger, Ghana, Côte d Ivoire, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, etc.

Welcome to Lagos!

I am standing in this morning for the head of the Consulate, Consul General John Bray, who is out of town currently but will return in time to join all of you tonight for the reception at his residence.

I am sure he looks forward to meeting you and hearing your stories.

The American Consulate is pleased to host the YALI TechCamp Reconnect Workshop which aims to accelerate the development of innovative technology solutions and digital strategies for strengthening democratic governance, transparency and citizen engagement,

We are extremely impressed with the fact that the Tech Camp has brought together 46 participants from 15 countries.

It is especially gratifying that what has brought you here is your desire to advance good governance and accountability on the African continent.

When former U.S. president, Barack Obama, established the Young African Leaders Initiative in 2014, he did so out of the conviction that the future of Africa is largely in the hands of its youth. Your presence here today is a practical demonstration of that conviction.

In providing support for this initiative, the U.S. government has demonstrated its belief that real solutions to African problems can best be developed by Africans.

To assist you, the State Department through International Information Programs, or IIP, has assembled a team of highly qualified trainers and experts who will help to bring out the best in you. These trainers have extensive experience from previous TechCamps held in Europe, Asia and in Africa. I understand that among these trainers and experts are some very accomplished Nigerians. That is fantastic!

It is not an exaggeration to say that each and everyday we see evidence of the critical need for greater efforts in good governance.  In fact, you will not have to go far outside of the doors of this institution to find confirmation of the need for real solutions to some of the most vexing issues facing government in Nigeria and elsewhere.

I am speaking of the need for better healthcare, more efficient transportation, better schools, improved sanitation, a healthier environment, in other words, a better quality of life and a more prosperous lifestyle for the citizens of Lagos or cities like Lagos throughout the continent.

Unfortunately, finding lasting, sustainable solutions to these problems is hampered by corruption, the absence or misallocation of resources, and simple mismanagement.

I am sure it is your hope that your skill and experience, the wisdom of the facilitators, or perhaps your commitment and passion will lead you and your colleagues to share some best practices or identify technological innovations that will help us in our quest to improve governance at all levels and ensure greater transparency and accountability.

We are counting on you!

The task is huge but every journey must begin with that first step. Perhaps sometime in the future, someone will cite this TechCamp as one of those first steps toward finding solutions to today’s problems.

I strongly encourage everyone here to think broadly about ways you can forge partnerships and expand your network as Tech leaders.

I won’t take up to much of your time this morning because we want to put you to work finding those solutions!

So let me conclude by wishing all of you success in your search for tools and techniques that will help civic-minded people of good will, let me wish you a pleasant stay in Lagos, and let me encourage you to return soon to this great city.

Please return to share your great ideas because as you will hear time and time again over the next three days, You are Welcome. Thank you very much.

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Godwin Okafor is a Financial Journalist, Internet Social Entrepreneur and Founder of Naija247news Media Limited. He has over 16 years experience in financial journalism. His experience cuts across traditional and digital media. He started his journalism career at Business Day, Nigeria and founded Naija247news Media in 2010. Godwin holds a Bachelors degree in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos. He is an alumni of Lagos Business School and a Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton Seminar for Business Journalists). Over the years, he has won a number of journalism awards. Godwin is the chairman of Emmerich Resources Limited, the publisher of Naija247news.

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