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April 23, 2010

Why am I at the @AfricaGathering in Washington, DC ... and why I need your help - #agdc #omidyar


OK, so this time I'm flying at 35K feet, and despite the ash cloud, I'm over the Atlantic on my way to Washington, DC to be part of the team at The Africa Gathering.

Why am I doing this … ?  Let me explain, but ...

Firstly, let me tell you about AG (Africa Gathering).  It was started 1 year ago (with its first anniversary this Saturday 24th April) by Edward Scotcher (@chiefmoamba).   His intention was to bring people together who have a passion to help Africa, at all levels.  He saw the benefits of giving them a place to share, grow and develop their ideas.

Quite a simple idea, but most of the best ones always are.

The first "gathering" was in London (Birkbeck College, Uni of London) a year ago and Ed was expecting the turn out to be 10 or 20 people max.  However what happened was quite amazing:  over 120 people turned out!

What Ed realised is that there was no singularity for people to share their ideas about celebrating African ingenuity.  Moreover, bearing in mind most of the best ideas to help Africa come from Africa, there was no on-line community that could support this need as well.

What Ed spotted, and what clearly was needed, was one place where people could go to share their ideas.
Africa Gathering was born.

Since then, Ed formed a partnership with Marieme Jamme (@mjamme).  They both have the same hopes for Africa and Africans.

The first event was a "proof of concept" and so now onto the second.

October 2009 was my first outing for AG.  It was a two day event, the first day bringing in businesses to network and see opportunity in the fold. The second day provided a "showcase" for some amazing people who are making brilliant and significant positive changes in Africa.

The day was "topped off" by a visit from Emmanuel Jal who told us of his story from being a boy soldier to the quite incredible man he is today and his struggle to bring quality education to the youth of Africa. Something that he himself never had.

His story had a profound effect on me personally and inspired me more than just about anything I have ever heard before.   The stories I listened to that day … well, let’s say I was proud, very humbled to be able to "do my bit" for all these people that are making a difference and who show such incredible leadership.

And it's still going.  December 09 saw AG in Nairobi, May 10 - Paris, July  - London - but here, right now Washington DC.

The billing for this event is as strong as ever.  The speakers will be none the less as inspiring and AG is on a roll.  Even at one year old AG is making a difference to Africa.

A baby making big steps!

And this is why I need your help to help them - all the people involved in AG need your help.
You see, we need all this effort to get "passed around" the web. We need the "noise level" to be turned up to "11".  Without this the journey will take longer.

My role in AG is to monitor what is happening on the web, and so far what I've seen is great.  Presently,  I can see very little "noise" coming out of Africa, but it's growing, and I can see some prominent people in Africa starting to flex their muscles on the web.

And there is a reason for this - it's YOU.   Because you are "sharing" and writing, they are beginning to see this - and because of this, they're getting more enthusiastic about the web and its potential to facilitate positive change in Africa.

The best ideas about Africa are born in Africa.  Ed had the idea to give those ideas a voice through AG.   Both the on-line and off-line events will make these ideas happen - and they will …. because they already are.

We could do so much more if you could help us. This weekend we will be sharing a whole host of media to the web, from Twitter to YouTube.   Can you help me/us/Africa by sharing this media out?

You never know, there could be someone somewhere with the key to a great idea.   There could be a connection - but without you delivering the connected(ness) some of them may never know.  You really can make a difference.  A small ripple can amplify into a tidal wave on the social web.  Can you play your part in creating a digital swell?

Thank you for taking the time to read this.  It’s a privilege to be here this weekend and I'm going to enjoy myself and share it all.   You can follow Africa Gathering on Twitter @africagathering and the #agdc hashtag.

African proverb:  Your success is my success.

Regards N

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