Only weeks away from our team traveling to Nigeria to join our partners and hosts Youth for Technology . RLabs Nigeria will focus on developing and empowering youth in using technologies such as Mxit, JamiiX and Social Media tools to distribute health information and provide peer to peer counselling services.
It will also work on programmes to develop new innovations that can be used to address the social problems experienced in the local context. The RLabs partnership with Youth for Technology is made possible through the support of The Indigo Trust and the official launch will be later this month. Watch this space as we keep you updated with developments in Nigeria.
Since its inception RLabs have always had a focus of using innovation to facilitate change and entrepreneurship as a model of sustainability. One of the key partners of RLabs over the last few years has been Mxit (Africa’s largest mobile Social network and Forbes top start up of Africa) who through providing RLabs access to its technology and using it as a tool for change.
This partnership enables the 50 million registered Mxit users to access professional counselling on various issues such as HIV, substance abuse and depression via mobile chat. Not only have this partnership made an impact in Southern Africa it also provided support to WHO with a safer hospital campaign in Indonesia last year. This partnership has reached more than 2.5 million people in need over the last 3 years via mobile chat, portals and feedback services.
Launchpad for RLabs Start-ups
Another aspect of the partnership which has proven to be successful is that a few of the social enterprises currently being incubated through RLabs have used Mxit as a launch pad and technology partner. The most well-known start-up is JamiiX which was our first product to be incubated and the partnership with Mxit has always brought lots of value to the growth of JamiiX. JamiiX is the platform currently being used in 17 countries world-wide with more than 500,000+ users being served via its FREE option and an additional 300,000+ users via its customized version.
Other start-ups who leveraged the RLabs and Mxit partnership are uusi (mobile jobs network with already more than 6,000,000 job searches in under 3 months, just under 40,000 mobile CVs uploaded and more than 50,000 users), MiGoX (open governance social platform), Urahisi (a mobile ordering service via Mxit) and others.
Global RLabs Support Partner
What really excites us of this new partnership is that Mxit and RLabs will work together in the countries where RLabs have a presence and where Mxit can be leveraged to be a key catalyst as the technology for social change in those countries. It will also allow the other RLabs hubs to innovate and come up with new products on the Mxit platform.
For us at RLabs having Mxit as a partner brings so much value as it not only allows us to grow the number of people we are impacting with social services, but it is also a valuable launch pad for new and creative social innovative products being developed by RLabs not only in South Africa but also soon via our other labs.
After an eventful 2011 with more than 250 graduates, the RLabs Academy in Cape Town is launching exciting new courses with an offering of 16 courses for 2012. The courses include Social Media, Web and Multimedia, Entrepreneurship as well as Leadership courses. Registration will take place during January 2012 and all courses offered are FREE on a first come basis.
You can view the full list of courses offered here.
Last week the RLabs Nigeria partners had an interesting call discussing the rollout of the new project that will be using technology to address the problems of HIV. This partnership between Youth for Technology and RLabs will be supported by Indigo Trust who is know for its impact investments in Africa.
The next few weeks the teams in South Africa, Nigeria and United States will be working towards its launch date with a training bootcamp for young people aged 16 – 25. Not only will they be able to benefit from digital training but they will also become part of the larger RLabs Global Movement where we hope to leverage the expertise of our network.
The technology training with the young people will include the following components:
1) Social Media for Social Change
2) Digital Change Agents
3) JamiiX Mobile Counselling
4) Digital Storytelling
The planned launch is for January 2012 and with only a few weeks to prepare our team is excited to see RLabs Nigeria making an impact in the communities growing the Social Revolution.
As part of the continuous growth of RLabs to empower and equip communities especially youth, our Nigeria partner Youth for Technology received a welcomed grant from Indigo Trust to provide peer-to-peer sexual health counselling in the southeastern and Niger Delta regions of Nigeria.
The project aims to equip young people with the tools to be able to express themselves effectively online and will provide them with training around ethics, sexual health and personal responsibility. While the youth counsellors will use social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to tell the stories of their difficult backgrounds, the counselling aspect of their work will be done via SMS to achieve maximum reach.
Hivos (The Hague) and The Centre for Internet and Society (Bangalore) consolidate their 3 year knowledge inquiry into the field of youth, technology and change in the 4 book collective “Digital AlterNatives with a cause?”. I’ve had the privilege of being part of this journey and under the supervision of Nishant Shah and Fieke Jansen (editors of the book), this initiative asks critical and pertinent questions about theory and practice in the world of Digital Natives.
The books can be downloaded below:
Book 1: To Be: Digital AlterNatives with a Cause? Download here
The first part, To Be, looks at the questions of digital native identities. Are digital natives the same everywhere? What does it mean to call a certain population ‘Digital Natives”? Can we also look at people who are on the fringes – Digital Outcasts, for example? Is it possible to imagine technology-change relationships not only through questions of access and usage but also through personal investments and transformations? The contributions help chart the history, explain the contemporary and give ideas about what the future of technology mediated identities is going to be.
Book 2: To Think: Digital AlterNatives with a Cause? Download here
In the second section, To Think, the contributors engage with new frameworks of understanding the processes, logistics, politics and mechanics of digital natives and causes. Giving fresh perspectives which draw from digital aesthetics, digital natives’ everyday practices, and their own research into the design and mechanics of technology mediated change, the contributors help us re-think the concepts, processes and structures that we have taken for granted. They also nuance the ways in which new frameworks to think about youth, technology and change can be evolved and how they provide new ways of sustaining digital natives and their causes.
Book 3: To Act: Digital AlterNatives with a Cause? Download here
To Act is the third part that concentrates on stories from the ground. While it is important to conceptually engage with digital natives, it is also, necessary to connect it with the real life practices that are reshaping the world. Case-studies, reflections and experiences of people engaged in processes of change, provide a rich empirical data set which is further analysed to look at what it means to be a digital native in emerging information and technology contexts.
Book 4: To Connect : Digital AlterNatives with a Cause? Download here
The last section, To Connect, recognises the fact that digital natives do not operate in vacuum. It might be valuable to maintain the distinction between digital natives and immigrants, but this distinction does not mean that there are no relationships between them as actors of change. The section focuses on the digital native ecosystem to look at the complex assemblage of relationships that support and are amplified by these new processes of technologised change.
We see this book as entering into a dialogue with the growing discourse and practice in the field of youth, technology and change. The ambition is to look at the digital (alter)natives as located in the Global South and the potentials for social change and political participation that is embedded in their interactions through and with digital and internet technologies. We hope that the book furthers the idea of a context-based digital native identity and practice, which challenges the otherwise universalist understanding that seems to be the popular operative right now. We see this as the beginning of a knowledge inquiry, rather than an end, and hope that the contributions in the book will incite new discussions, invoke cross-sectorial and disciplinary debates, and consolidate knowledges about digital (alter)natives and how they work in the present to change our futures.