10 July 2018

Liberia's First Innovation Campus Launched

Following years of service to the public in general to ensure easy access to a high-speed internet service and develop shared ideas to solve challenges collectively in the technology sector of the country, with support from the USAID and other international partners, Liberia's first Innovation Campus (iCampus) has been launched in Monrovia.

The official launch was held on July 5, at the facility of iCampus on upper Carey Street, bringing many innovative young Liberian entrepreneurs and other stakeholders.

At the official opening of the program the manager of iCampus, Luther Jeke, expressed extreme excitement with the level of progress made over the years with support from international partners.

Mr. Jeke thanked the British Embassy near Monrovia and other partners for their continued support over the years, which has brought the institution to what it is today.

He said iCampus is the gathering point for change makers in Liberia, noting that the institution believes that building a community of likeminded individuals requires collective efforts to foster social change issues in the country.

Jeke explained that whether there is a need to improve the Agricultural sector, Education and Health in terms of technology, iCampus remains a suitable place for everyone.

He then encouraged Liberians to take advantage of the facilities as it will help to strengthen many challenges the country faces in the digital world. iCampus also offers convivence in hot desks, meeting rooms and private offices.

iCampus is co-founded by two entities, iLab Liberia and Accountability Lab Liberia.

Members of the original iLab team at the iCampus launching: Kpetermeni Siakor, Luther Jeke, Anthony Kamah, Kate Cummings and Carter Draper

Lab's mission is to assist IT professionals, aspiring technologsits, newcomers to IT, as well as organizations and institutions in their effort to more readily share information using information and communication technologies (ICTs). iLab trainings were originally focused on open source tools and operating systems because they promote interactive communities and shared ownership. iLab's trainings have since expanded to include topics such as web development for teens, social media, IT for small businesses, Google Earth and Map Maker, how to blog, mastering the internet, and more. iLab has also become a space for local meet-ups of special interest technology groups and for local and international organizations to host events that are in-line with iLab's mission.

The Accountability Lab's mission is to empower citizens to build the world's best tools for integrity. The organization's work on transparency and accountability and social change issues are helping to change the way government works, change the way people engage government and develop the kind of tools that build bridges between community and the government interactions. Accountability Lab is well known for its "Integrity Idol" Awards, which has become an annual feature in Liberia.

Accountability Lab team member Anthony Selmah (far left), along with British Ambassador David Belgrove (3rd from left) and other guests at the iCampus launch

Today young Liberians, comprising more than 50% of the country's total population, have incredible energy but often feel alienated and excluded from ideas and opportunities which could improve their livelihood. With the official launch of iCampus Liberia, young people will have the opportunity to get acquainted to the digital world.

There are few active, managed spaces anywhere in the country where youth can come together to collaborate, innovate, access high-speed internet and develop shared ideas to solve collective challenges.

"Liberia is now entering into a critical period of its post-conflict history in which it is essential that young citizens have the skills, tools and communities they need to leverage change and build the Liberia they would like to live in going forwards." Jeke stated.

In an interview, Jeke told the Daily Observer that iCampus is a shared innovation, co-working and community space for organizations focusing on the intersection of technology, accountability and social change in Liberia.

According to him, iCampus acts as a physical and virtual space for youth-focused ICT and governance training; a networking and innovation hub.

In remarks the Chief of party of USAID LAVI, Milica Panic, told the gathering that USAID, as part of its effort to ensure Liberia's growth and development in every sector, remains supportive to building a strong and vibrant institution to help young people to become useful in the society.

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