By Ishola Balogun
Lagos – Acting United States Consul General Darcy Zotter on Tuesday unveiled a Disability-Friendly Digital Hub hosted at the Lagos office of the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD).
A Nigerian civic organization, Project Enable, set up the digital hub with the support of the U.S. Government Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund of $25, 000. The United States Consulate General in Lagos also provided additional funding of $4,401 to keep this digital hub running.
Speaking at the formal opening of the digital hub, Acting Consul General Zotter explained that promoting disability rights is an integral part of promotion of human rights. She added that discrimination against people with disabilities is not only unjust but hinders economic development and limits democracy and social cohesion.
“We are happy to identify with this initiative which seeks to promote the empowerment and social inclusion of persons living with disabilities in Nigeria. Through this technology and entrepreneurship hub, over 250 people with disabilities will have free access to inclusive technology.
“An additional 20 young persons with disabilities will be trained and mentored in various technology-based skills at the hub,” Acting Consul General Darcy Zotter said at the event attended by civil society leaders and senior government officials working on disability issues.
The technology and entrepreneurship hub seeks to promote the empowerment and social inclusion of persons with disabilities. It will provide volunteer opportunities to young people with disabilities while serving as a center for their continuous development in entrepreneurship.
Project Enable is led by Mr. Olusola Owonikoko, a 2016 Mandela Washington Fellow and 2014 Fellow of the Carrington Youth Fellowship Initiative (CYFI).
Through the Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund, 68 grants of up to $25,000 each were awarded in 2017 to U.S government exchange alumni teams worldwide including Project Enable, to support their public service projects.
The U.S. Department of State created the Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF) in 2011 to support alumni initiatives that promote shared values and innovative solutions to global challenges.
Since its inception, the AEIF has supported more than 300 alumni-led initiatives around the world, and reached millions of people through trainings, awareness campaigns, leadership and empowerment agos