Africa and AI – Now and the Future

Over the course of the summer, I joined the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University to contribute to the ethics and governance of artificial intelligence for societal interest initiative, with the Youth and Media team. I had an interest in the development of artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies; most importantly, how these technologies and developments can be tools for solving some of biggest problems the world face and aid better leadership and public impact.

In this piece, I shared my thoughts on the need for continental renaissance to shape the future of AI and how to spur a conscious involvement from stakeholders across Africa and the Global South.

Read the piece here.


Leadership Thought

Growing with Young African Leaders

If there is one thing i crave insatiably, it is growth.

Damola Morenikeji and Linda Thomas-Greenfield

Few weeks ago, I joined other young African leaders / professionals selected (out of over 14,000 applications) for the US President’s Young African Leaders Initiative RLC Fellowship. I grew. I am still growing – daily.

Our individual commitment to growth is paramount; it influences our leadership, actions and results. The daily actions by friends and partners (even you and others on this platform) to drive positive change around the world is equally commendable. I see you – like I had, before now.

Let’s keep growing, doing and being. We can #BeMore.

[Photo: Linda Thomas-Greenfield (US Assistant Secretary of States for Africa) and Damola Morenikeji at the US Ambassador’s Office in Ghana]

Other images, courtesy the US Embassy in Ghana are below.

Damola Morenikeji, US Ambassador to Ghana Robert Porter Jackson and Amewuda Getrude
Some of the Young African Leaders hosted by the US Ambassador to Ghana


Growth Thought

The ‘Iyalaya Anybody’ Lessons on Innovation and Development in Africa

Most times in the development space, we have to look beyond headlines and taglines and focus on lessons from pieces and lives. I read Prof. Pius Adesanmi’s keynote address titled “Iyalaya Anybody: Pencils, Nigerian Innovation, & Africa’s Path in the 21st Century” delivered last week in Lagos, Nigeria. Beyond the ostensibly ‘obscenity’ that may come with the title, he distinctively approached the theme of innovation and the development of the African continent with conscientious audacity, thought-provokingly.
The world is changing. Innovation, knowledge-based growth, vision and corresponding actions are important factors for national development – in this case, I prefer to say continental development. While I applaud futuristic initiatives as the United Nations Agenda 2030 and the Agenda 2063 of the African Union, we need to place all hands on deck to innovate, act, review our actions, evaluate progresses and further scale up development. Like I shared with a colleague some nights ago, these ‘Agendas’ are achievable, if like the United Arabs Emirate, we – among other things – build strong institutions, promote strong societal values embedded in a culture of excellence in leadership and responsibility, invest in education and human capital development. No nation ever moved up the development ladder by trivializing inclusive governance and human capital development.
We get to respect and appreciate the borderless possibilities that exist only when we try; when we try to live responsibly, knowing that the fate of the African continent depends largely – not only on the actions of her governments but also of her young people. For several days, I have been opportune to meet and interact with some of the brightest young minds in the continent. One thing they possess in common is an audacity to change the narrative. Whether through entrepreneurship, civil society leadership or public management, they can be dubbed as ‘innovators of the public’ – apologies to Ashoka, solving some of the various problems in their various spaces across the continent, with or without public institutional backing.
A visionary leadership in all countries in Africa positively encouraging youth innovation is unarguably an answer to the question of how we may live in the realities of the envisioned Africa come 2063. Some other questions are worth answering: do we have to wait till 2063? Can we get Agenda 2063 achieved years before the deadline? Can we learn from the successes and failures of the Millennium Development Goal/Agenda (MDG) and commit ourselves to the task at hand? Can we harness the innovative prowess of our young people, in an environment that promotes creativity, innovation, peace, mutual respect and dignity? Can we recheck the foundation laid in anticipation of development, and mend or re-lay weak ends for this and future generations? Can we be truthful to ourselves and review our preparedness for the journey? Can we consciously encourage home-grown youth-driven innovations?
The experiences of several other innovative young Africans sometimes make me imagine the level of progress we might have further made, if we had better climate that genuinely supports what we do. However, I resonate with Prof’s opinion that the absence of this climate can result in positive doggedness and a resilient positive attitude raised to a square of what is required in other societies.
Another important factor, we must learn not only to change the narrative by doing, but also by telling. We need to tell our own stories. We need to encourage ingenuity. Recalling the story of Dziffa Akua Ametam, the 23 year old founder of the Ghana-based e-commerce platform,, whom I met at a Breakfast meeting recently, and the stories of several others, we are reminder that while changing the development narrative, we need to be proactive in telling our story; what my friend, Adenike means when she advises on blowing your trumpets. While rankings, fellowships et al may be helpful, we need to go beyond that and have a strong record system. It is in this light that I feel the toils of Jidenma’s Celebrating Progress Africa, Innovation Prize for Africa, Africa Rizing’s Watch2016 Rizers listing, African Youth Awards, YouthHub Africa, The Future Project and others within the continent and in diaspora. We need to be, and do much more.
We have a good journey ahead. We can go farther when we hold hands and hearts. In work. In Values. In results. For Africa.
Leadership Thought

More than a Million Pounds

Over one million thoughts engaged one another in my head, after seeing the premiere of ‘One Million Pounds’ along with some other Young African Leaders.
For us to sustain the ‘Africa Rising’ reality, Africans must place further value on values, honour and integrity instead of money and cheer materialism. We are worth more than these things. More. We need to build institutions, not only strong individuals.
Our commitment to excellence shouldn’t be second place; that’s one of the basic things that can make us lead our place well. Whatever we do, as Africans is our message to the rest of the world. Let’s make our message worthwhile.
Bring it on, no matter how much we may tend to fall, let’s keep rising.‪#‎AfricaRising‬.
Leadership Thought

Of Flipping Calendars, Leadership and Gratitude

What other way may one flip over the calendar than being in a state of happiness, humility and genuine gratitude, encouraged by the realization that one’s actions are still serving as blessings to several other young people and societies in Africa and across the world. It is indeed humbling and ‘graceful’.
The last three days – till now – have been filled with severely intensive growth and learning experiences as we engaged the fourth cohort of our annual youth leadership programme, Studership. Each day has been unique both for participants – numbering about a hundred from nine countries – and our faculty. Considering the quality of discuss and daily feedback from the young leaders participating in the ‪#‎Studership‬ 4.0 Leadership Programme, I remain optimistic that it is possible to enhance our world with young people being empowered and committed to consistently creating value by solving most of the biggest challenges we face, without comprising on integrity and other values.
Going forward, few hours ago, I got informed of my emergence as the Winner of the 2015 African Youth Awards for Excellence in Leadership. Another graceful experience. This honour is made possible because of people like you who believed in possibilities. People like you whom truly are passionate about making systems work and encouraging responsible and value-based leadership. People like you who showed love and responsibility, through your thoughts and actions. Thank you.
Today, as we plan towards the next eighteen-score and few days, I come forward, with a humble heart to celebrate you. Our team at AllforDevelopment celebrates you. Do not let us relent; let’s live through this year consistently valuing personal integrity and responsibility, principle of love and perseverance, practicing genuine humility, consistently learning and valuing people / relationships.
We can all make Nigeria, Africa and the world a better place. Accept my felicitations on your great endeavours this ‘new’ year, as you work towards it! I look forward to your ‘testimonies’ soon!
God bless you, indeed!
Damola Morenikeji
Education Thought

World Economic Forum and the New Vision for Education

Earlier this month, I participated in the World Economic Forum on Africa held in Abuja, Nigeria. Though the forum had the theme ‘Forging Inclusive Growth, Creating Jobs’, I was more engage in brainstorming with other global stakeholders in the education sector on how we can effectively achieve a ‘new vision for education’.

A session at the forum, co-hosted by the Global Business Coalition for Education was dedicated towards the ‘New Vision for Education’. With an insightful coordination by Sarah Brown, Executive Chair of the Global Business Coalition for Education, the session focused – among other things – on discussing strategies to reshape education for Africa’s sustainable long-term growth and competitiveness, by exploring approaches to define the education-employment gap, determine effective distribution infrastructure, deliver education through technology and fund education for growth. You can read my reflection here.

Another important highlight of the World Economic Forum was the launch of the Safe Schools initiative by the United Nations Special Envoy on Global Education, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Gordon Brown and the Nigerian business community.

Damola Morenikeji and Gordon Brown at #WEFAfrica
The pilot phase of the safe school initiative is meant to ensure that we have 500 safe schools in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa states and other states in the Northern part of Nigeria.
It can be recalled that over a month ago, more than 200 girls were abducted at their school in Chibuk, a town in Borno state, Nigeria, causing a continuous out-pour of solidarity to ensure that actions are taken to #BringBackOurGirls. As Gordon Brown noted, effective actions should be taken to bring the abducted girls back, ensure schools are safe for learning and deal with the insecurity challenge.
Read excerpts  of my reflection on the realisation of a new vision for education here. After reading, I would love to know what you think is missing? What should we do more? What shouldn’t we do? Why? How else can we achieve this? I want to read from you!
I continually affirm, that with the right actions taken by the right people at the right time, things will turn out right.
Damola [@DamolaMore]
Leadership Thought

Nurtural versus Natural Leadership; Reflections from Studership 2.0 Leadership Programme

Last week was incredibly amazing!

The week started with an online engagement with participants of the Studership 2.0 Leadership Programme – emerging leaders from 38 countries in five continents (Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and South America). It is believed that young people are the greatest assets of any nation, and our contribution to personal and global development is quintessential. As leaders however, we need to clarify, and identify where we stand, as we continue in the voyage of leadership, personal and global development.

In the realm of leadership study, questions of nature versus nurture of leaders have always been one of the frequently asked questions. In a similar vein, we asked ‘Are Leaders Born or Made?’, creating a poll with the options of ‘Leaders are Born’, ‘Leaders are Made’, and ‘Leaders are Born and Made’. After a thoughtful and enlightening session of conviction and explanation of diverse opinion, 12.9% of respondents opined that leaders are born, 16.13% opined that leaders are made while 70.97% of participants chose that leaders are born and made.

Personally, i believe that though the circumstance surrounding birth and upbringing may influence ‘certain traits’, leaders – depending on the context of definition of leaders – are born and made. Everyone has a potential for growth, if provided with the right resources, platform and unwavering commitment. The major difference between those born to occupy certain leadership/royal position and great leaders is the continuous self awareness and commitment to growth.

In furtherance of the concept behind this discuss, we advised – during our first broadcast held later in

the week – that as leaders, it is essential we have a vision. Theodore Hesburgh had advised that ‘the very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision’, a vision that is people-based, value-based and creates a mental illustration (picture) of a world that works for everyone – an illustration which you can clearly articulate in every situation. Apart from having a vision, another step to developing the leader in you is that you need to seek clarity on your values. Identify and live your life by core values; you may make a commitment to live by the values of integrity, responsibility, credibility, appreciation, ‘exemplarity’, among others.

To make this easy – but not easier – you may decide to start by writing an ‘ideal’ tribute to yourself; write the way you want to be seen by people, how you want your generation to see you, what you want history to record about you. Second, discover your ‘real’ self; be faithful to know where you are and where you stand. Understand who you are, what your passion is and where your strengths lie. Note the difference between WHO you are currently and who you aspire to be – as written. Third, make an action plan. Write your credo and stick to it.

Now the big questions; how conscious are you about yourself? Are you committed to your personal growth? Can you state your vision of a world that works for everyone? Are you living by your core values?

I’ll love to read from you.

Keep Growing, Keep Leading!
Aanu Damola Morenikeji is considered Africa’s youngest youth intellectual and leadership development advocate. A sought-after speaker on the theme of leadership and personal growth, he is an alumnus of the M121 Social Leadership Academy, U.S.A and founder of Studership Youth Leadership Academy – an initiative of All for Development Foundation [ADM-Foundation]. He blogs at and can be reached via

Nigerian Teenage Girls invent Urine-powered Generator

Young Nigerians have always been emerging and creating ideas to solve certain societal and contribute to the development of the nation. In this regard, Four Nigerian teenage girls have invented what seems utmost surprising – A URINE-POWERED GENERATOR.

Duro-Aina Adebola (14), Akindele Abiola (14), Faleke Oluwatoyin (14) and Bello Eniola (15) displayed to Nigeria and the world that one litre of what had been termed a ‘useless waste’ can be converted and used to create six hours of electricity. The invention which was displayed at this year’s Maker Faire Africa – earlier this month – in Lagos has been described to work like this;

  • Urine is put into an electrolytic cell, which separates out the hydrogen.
  • The hydrogen goes into a water filter for purification, which then gets pushed into the gas cylinder.
  • The gas cylinder pushes hydrogen into a cylinder of liquid borax, which is used to remove the moisture from the hydrogen gas.
  • This purified hydrogen gas is pushed into the generator.
  • One litre of urine will generate 6 hours of electricity.

Their invention, I believe, if properly looked into and enhanced can create unprecedented ease (if totally domesticated) even for people living in rural settlements, and could serve as a major source of energy.

To the prodigies – Adebola, Abiola, Oluwatoyin and Eniola –, do not relent. May you be endowed with more strength and wisdom as you chart your course in life. Truly, there is hope for Nigeria and Nigerians.

Source: MakerFaireAfrica

ADM-Foundation launches ‘YouthSpeakDevelopment’ (Online Opinion Bank)

In ensuring the participation of young people in the development process of the African continent, an online opinion bank – YouthSpeakDevelopment – have been launched by All for Development Foundation (ADM-Foundation).

With youths constituting over 60% of the African population, it had been observed that they (youths) possess strong, unimaginable zeal for the development of their countries and the continent, thus, the need for their voice, opinions, ideas and feelings to be shared and positively considered, regardless of their nationality, gender, age or culture.

In a statement accredited to the Executive Director of the organization – 19 year old Aanu Damola Morenikeji – he noted that ‘since youths are the greatest assets that our continent possesses, our opinions and ideas have a strong influence on our future. So, we are launching YouthSpeakDevelopment an opinion bank meant to give youths from within African and diaspora an avenue to share their views, opinions and ideas towards the development of the continent.

Noting that African Youth Day will be commemorated on Thursday, November 1st, 2012, he urged African youths to share their opinions via


Youths discuss participation in qualitative governance at the NETAD Young and Emerging Leaders Summit

In recent times, the idea of youth participation in governance has become a popular discourse in Nigeria. Young people are getting more interested and sensitised on the need for active participation in the decision-making process. It is on this note that over 3000 youths across the country met last Thursday to chart a way forward.The colourful event, tagged, “Young and Emerging Leaders Summit”, was organised by Network for Talent Discovery (NETAD), an organisation committed to making positive contribution in ensuring talent discovery and development, leadership development and fostering patriotism among teenagers in the African continent and beyond.
The morning rain could not deter the participants who were already seated by 10am at the magnificent Aduke Maina Hall, Federal College of Education, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Some of them were youth leaders from Ogun, Lagos, Ekiti, Ondo, Oyo, Osun, Kwara, Delta, Edo, Enugu, Kano, Gombe, among other states. Members of the Youth Parliament, Ogun State, and the Nigerian Red Cross Society were also at the summit.
Students of the Federal College of Education, Abeokuta, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (UNAAB), Premier Grammar School, Abeokuta and Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta were also present in their numbers.
In her keynote address entitled, “Youth Participation in Qualitative Governance:Mirage or Reality?”, wife of Ogun State Governor, Mrs. Olufunso Amosun charged the youths to get themselves involved in the process of evolving a better future, adding that the act of good or qualitative governance is not an exclusive preserve of a particular generation.
Mrs. Amosun, who was represented by the wife of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Ogun State, Dr. (Mrs.) Rasheedat Salisu, said: “ As a mother, I see our youths as the pivotal pillars with abundant and fresh energy that can help us build a great future. It is a truism that ideas rule the world. Our youths are full of ideas and they have responsibility to come forward to make those ideas available so as to take our society to the next level.
“The theme is very apt and timely, considering leadership challenges our dear nation is passing through. Though these challenges are not insurmount-able, it requires our concerted efforts to bring forth new ideas in order to transform our society.”
The facilitator and Executive Coordinator of NETAD, Aanu Damola Morenikeji thanked the participants for the success of the programme. And in his presentation tagged: “Emerging Societies, Emerging Leaders”, he described leaders as people who are able to think and act creatively in non-routine situations and who set out to influence the actions, beliefs and feelings of others to achieve set goals.
The 18-year-old Ogun State Youth Coordinator, Nigerian Red Cross Society, and winner, Ogun State 2012 Youth Award for Excellence in Health and Community Service, noted that 10,000 new leadership positions shall emerge over the next de-cade in different fields.
“The world is changing. The world is emerging. Everything is shifting, even nature. Only those who change along with it shall survive. Only the unique folks, visionary leaders shall emerge to rule in the new world order,” he asserted.
Morenikeji, who is an author (having written six story books) and motivational speaker, told the participants that “the three things that can stop you from becoming your dream is you! you!! and you!!!”
Another speaker, Ogunbowale Oludayo made a stimulating presentation. Speaking on “Participation is you;Encouraging blue ocean participation”, Oludaya who is President, DESPLAY Af-rica Republic, Season 7, defined youth participation as young people getting involved in what happens around them and decisions that affect their lives and well-being.
He enumerated corruption, bad governance, non functional education, hike in fuel pump price, poor health care, unemploy-ment, inequality, among other problems, as some of the reasons that call for their participation.
“Get involved today in social change and what’s happening around you! Nigeria, democracy, your community offers a unique space and possibilities….what do you offer as youths? To live is to participate!” he charged.
Similarly, National President of The Young Journalists Fo-rum, Ayodele Samuel Ayokunle pointed that there are over 45 million young people in Nigeria, yet 90 per cent of these populations are not involved in decision-making process while less than 50 percent have access to one form of social media.
Making a presentation on “Youth Participation in Gover-nance and Decision Making; Using the Social Media Effectively in Nigeria,” Ayokunle urged the tech-savvy young Nigerians to gear up to use BlackBerries, mobile phones and social networking services such as Twitter and Facebook to contribute to decision making process.
Interestingly, budding artistes, comedians and others displayed their talents to the admiration of everybody in the hall.  Participants were, however, given certificates.
NOTE: The above article was written by Leonard Okachie and published by National Mirror. Click here to view story.