Owerri Digital Village
In September 2001, YTF selected Nigeria as the first country to establish its premier Community Technology and Learning Center (CTLC), the Owerri Digital Village (ODV). This decision came about after an extended due diligence period that consisted of first, hearing from “the people” and then researching quantitative and qualitative data on the environment, infrastructural state, educational system and other organizations. Seed funding for the establishment of the ODV was made available by Microsoft Corporation.
The vision for the ODV was simple, but powerful. YTF listened to community members express a clear interest in having a place where they could gather peacefully to learn, share and exchange ideas leading to a more sustainable community. Owerri, Imo State, a rural town in Southeastern Nigeria, was selected by YTF to locate its very first center. Owerri is about 600 KM from the former capital, Lagos State and is home to approximately 600,000 people - most of who are of Ibo descent and are predominantly farmers or traders. This region has historically been underserved as a result of the Biafran War, 1967-1970, where up to 2 million Biafran civilians, especially children, lost their lives to malnutrition and starvation during the war. Imo State is considered the heartland of the Southeast. Predominantly an Igbo speaking region, the region has remained impoverished over the years, long after the war. Economically, Imo has virtually no industries to assist in engaging the large numbers of unemployed youth and women. Some Imo communities are among the oil producing areas of Nigeria and there are usually high incidences of youth restiveness and communal conflicts over land ownership.
Programs at the ODV are designed to develop and empower young people. The programs enhance their characters, build confidence in their abilities, develop their competence and self-sufficiency and instill a sense of connectedness with the communities they come from and the world. Since the founding of the Owerri Digital Village in 2001, 3 other CTLC’s have been established in other rural communities in Nigeria. These are the Akwa Ibom Digital Village, the Benue Digital Village and the Lagos Digital Village. The day to day operations of these centers are managed by other grassroots organizations and were built on the paradigm of YTF’s Owerri Digital Village.
The “New Owerri Digital Village”
In over a decade of working in this region, YTF has taught young people to recognize the value of staying in their local communities and developing them through the acquisition of technical skills and competent manpower. In 2009, YTF began a capital campaign towards the establishment of the “New Owerri Digital Village”, a sustainable, ecologically conscious development that will address social and economic deficits plaguing rural areas in the developing world - erratic electricity supply and a lack of potable water.
Learn More About the New Owerri Digital Village.
Communities Top 3 Challenges:
Lack of Sustainable Industry
How Our Programs Directly Address These Challenges:
Through the active participation of young people and women in the communities YTF serves in Owerri, we endeavor to enhance the mindset of our beneficiaries; instilling in them critical thinking skills and a sense of self esteem, responsibility, individuality and respect for people. Our programs are designed to empower our beneficiaries to take an active approach to their personal development whether as employees or employers. Beneficiaries are taught how to use the available tools, technology and resources to write their business plans, keep good accounting records and learn about networks and resources that can help them share best practices with people in similar industries and access financing through micro-loans.
Owerri Digital Village – Additional Information
Country Director: Maureen Uduji
Office Location (s): Owerri
Regional Presence: Southeastern Nigeria, Niger Delta
Services Offered: Capacity and Skills Building, Advocacy, Entrepreneurship and Leadership Training, Civic Education, Technology Literacy
Key Partners: Mgbala Agwa Youths Forum, Teachers Without Borders (TWB)