How big ideas platform 2024 gathered Africa’s leading minds to explore technology as catalyst for change – SPPG

The School of Politics, Policy, and Governance (SPPG), in partnership with the Yar’Adua Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation, convened the Big Ideas Platform 2024 on May 25, 2024 held at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre.

The event focused on the theme “Information Technology and Behavior Change,” exploring technology and social innovation as game-changers for Africa’s development.

SPPG CEO Alero Ayida-Otobo opened the platform by emphasising technology’s pivotal role in tackling Africa’s challenges across sectors like communication, commerce, education, and more.

The platform delved into four key subthemes: blockchain technology, environmental awareness, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence (AI). Four prominent African innovators presented their “big ideas” for leveraging these technologies for positive impact.

SPPG’s Blockchain Project lead, Oluseun Badejo, championed the use of blockchain technology to address issues like certificate forgery and data alteration in the education sector.

“This secure and cost-effective solution would streamline verification of academic credentials, benefiting both institutions and graduates,” she said.

A leading waste management expert and social entrepreneur, Sian Cuffy Young, advocated for fostering environmental awareness in children through educational resources and animations.

“Early education on practical waste management skills will cultivate a generation committed to environmental responsibility,” Young said.

Sabiqah Bello, representing Ahmad Salkida of HumanAngle, a media platform utilising VR to humanise Africa’s conflicts, showcased the power of VR journalism. VR allows viewers to experience the realities of others, fostering deeper empathy and understanding.

Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji, a technology education expert, highlighted the crucial role of AI in information verification. She emphasised the need for AI literacy and integrating AI education into curricula to equip Africa’s future workforce with essential skills.

The platform fostered discussions on scaling these ideas for Africa’s transformation.

The MacArthur Foundation’s Deputy Director for Africa, Dr. Amina Salihu, led the conversation, addressing concerns raised by panellists like Ajibola Amzat, a Nigerian investigative journalist, who emphasised the potential for misuse of technology.

A Nigerian politician and educationalist, Prof. Remi Sonaiya, stressed the importance of ethical considerations and responsible use of technology.

A Nigerian politician and social innovator, Frank Nweke Jnr, highlighted the need for Africa to be a player in the global AI conversation.

Founder of #FixPolitics, Dr. Obiageli ‘Oby’ Ezekwesili, emphasised the critical role of behaviour change in driving Africa’s progress.

She underscored SPPG’s commitment to ensuring these “big ideas” translate into tangible results across the continent.

The Big Ideas Platform 2024 served as a valuable forum for knowledge sharing and exploration of the transformative potential of technology.

The insights and innovations presented offer significant promise for addressing Africa’s pressing issues and driving positive change.

As the event concluded, attendees departed inspired to take action and contribute to a brighter future for Nigeria and Africa as a whole.