The U.S. Embassy in Niamey, in partnership with Niger’s Conseil National de la Jeunesse (National Youth Council, CNJ), and the Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP), hosted “TechCampNiamey: Voix pour la Paix” January 20-21. The two-day program focused on the challenges of countering violent extremism. Seventy youth and religious leaders from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal and Niger came together to discuss the threat of radicalization in their communities and to learn ways technology can be used to create and promote counter-narratives of peace and tolerance. In addition to gaining new technological skills, participants are now part of a regional network of leaders who can seek advice and share best practices.
The first day of the TechCamp began with “speed-geeking” – five-minute sessions where trainers give an overview of their tech tools – followed by longer interactive sessions on topics such as “Multimedia Storytelling,” “Social Media for Religious Leaders,” and “Connectivity and Digital Access in Rural Areas.” On the second day, 11 trainers from Africa, Europe, and the United States worked with the participants to apply their tech skills in small groups to come up with dynamic strategies to counter extremist messages and promote peace and tolerance. Check out some of the TechCamp products at http://techcamp2016.blogspot.com/ andhttp://weboostafrica.org. At the end of the second day, participants received a challenge to each share what they learned with 30 other people to build “2,000 Voices for Peace” in 2016.