Grants:Conference/Wikimedia User Group Nigeria/WikiIndaba Conference 2019/Report
The WikiIndaba conference 2019 took place in Abuja, Nigeria from 8 to 10 November 2019. This conference was hosted and organized by Wikimedia Nigeria Foundation (WNF) and funded by the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF). The 2019 conference was the fourth conference organized with support from Wikimedia Foundation. It’s a conference for capacity building and development, skills acquisition, leadership training, knowledge sharing to foster the growth of Wikimedia projects in Africa. The first edition of Wiki-Indaba Conference was held in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2014 by Wikimedia ZA, while the 2018 edition was held in Tunis, Tunisia by Wikimedia TN Usergroup. The 2017 and 2018 Wiki Indaba reports were thoroughly reviewed and the conference was improved in 2019. The scholarship was improved and adjusted to accommodate more females participants (>40%).
|WMF Liaison||Olaniyan Olushola|
|Logistics||Runcie Chidebe, Kayode Yusuf|
|Conference Program||Sam Oyeyele, Olaniyan Olushola, 2 WISCOM members, WMF Liaison, 3 community members|
|Scholarships||Organizers (Olaniyan Olushola, Olatunde Isaac, Ayokunle Odedere), WISCOM members (Felix Nartey, Reda Kerbouche), WMF Liaison, community members (David Richfield, Sami Mlouhi, Alangi Derick, Kipala,Ahmed Mohi El din)|
|Communications||Kayode Yusuf, Mrs. Florence Onuegbu (News Agency of Nigeria), Jemilat Abudulai|
Scholarships were awarded to 50 participants from more than 20 countries. The scholarship was improved and adjusted to accommodate more females participants (>40%). A committee, Scholarship Review Committee (SRC) of nine (9) members drawn from Wiki Indaba Steering Committee, the host, Wikimedia Nigeria Foundation and the African Wikimedians Community was constituted. The scholarship committee was chaired by Isaac Olatunde and included User:HandsomeBoy, David Richfield, User:Sami Mlouhi, User:Alangi Derick, Ingo Koll, Ahmed Mohi El din, Felix Nartey and Reda Kerbouche
This was to ensure transparency in the review process. WikiIndaba Steering Committee representatives were nominated by WISCOM, and Community appointed members were selected following a call for volunteering in the committee. The scholarship application was opened from May - July 2019 and applicants were notified of the status of their application in August 2019. Travel support documents were issued to successful applicants in September 2019.
The committee, however, did not record any grievance or concerns from members of the community as the process was transparent.
This year the conference was well-organized. The logistics team comprising of Runcie Chidebe and Kayode Yussuf was responsible for managing the conference logistics. The tasks focus on securing a good venue, hotel accommodation, travel, conference catering, communication, and volunteer management. The team was focused and determined to ensure that the conference program was smooth and interesting for participants. The team invested a lot of time and effort into improving the participant management processes. We had three major challenges. They were faced with the challenge of getting decent hotel accommodation for participants. Twin bed was recommended by the WMF and the Wiki Indaba Steering Committee. Twin bed rooms are not popular in Nigeria, hence they are difficult to get. We spent several days persuading the hotel management to get a twin bed for the conference. After much effort, the management eventually bought more beds, but it was very challenging. Security concern was one of the reasons the conference was earlier postponed so the team hired additional security personnel to escort participants from the airport to the hotel and back to the airport during departure.
Dealing with the effect of late approval of visa application was challenging to the team as that tremendously affected the travel booking process. Although the team coped with these challenges, the stress could have been avoided and a lot of time could have been saved if the scholarship list had been approved earlier and travel documents issued on time.
The logistics team worked in collaboration with our communications team to manage communications with participants, embassies, Wikimedia Foundation, and partners. They handle requests, complains and answered questions related to visa applications and other related questions from participants. While Hikrz Travels was hired to handle travel bookings.
The logistics team was also faced with the challenge of wifi instability at the conference venue. The hotel management assured us of a stable internet in hotel rooms but not at the conference venue. We decided to get a more stable internet at the conference venue. The team contacted a local internet service provider and finalized arrangements. Unfortunately, we could not pay them on time to do the installation as the fiscal sponsor failed to wire the fund but rather insisted on bringing the cash to the venue. The payment was made on 7th November 2019, the evening before the conference. Thus, the Agency's engineer came on the morning of Day 1 and they did not have enough time to test-run the internet network.
In general, we had a smooth logistical operation with the support and expertise of WMF staff and other Wikimedia User groups in Nigeria including the Igbo Wikimedians User Group, Yoruba Wikimedians User Group, and Hausa Wikimedians User Group. We are absolutely satisfied with the organization of the conference and the feedback received from participants shows clearly that the event was successful. We believed that the logistics team should be strengthened for the next Wiki Indaba in Uganda.
General overview of activities of logistics coordinators
|Area||Task (summarized)||end outcome|
|Cost management||Create budget plan||Complied|
|Process invoices, expenses tracking and cost control|
|Set up actual cost overview|
|Create invoices from vendors to the fiscal sponsor|
|Location management||Conference venue research and negotiation||Complied|
|Check technical & equipment as well as catering needs|
|Wifi for conference venue|
|Create room plans & schedules|
|Set up / Dismantlement|
|Manage location and catering team on-site|
|Hotel Management||Hotel research and quotations solicitation"||Complied|
|Hotel reservation for participants|
|Participant Management||Set up concept and create registration form||Complied|
|Checking and managing incoming emails|
|Adding participants on meta|
|Communicating with participants|
|Visa Management, creating and sending invitation letters|
|Participants support, registration on-site|
|Communication Management||Creation and maintenance of meta page||Complied|
|Sending information and updates via mail to participants|
|Creation and administration of mailing list|
|Respond to individual needs and requirements of participants and other stakeholders|
|Create documents for on- site usage (signage, conference guide etc.)|
|Social Event||Location scouting||Complied|
|Brainstorming and preparing social activities|
|On-site management of participants and service providers|
The Program Committee received 63 submissions and a total of 38 submissions were accepted. The program was coordinated by Sam Oyeyele. The program committee designed the appropriate theme for the conference, through elaborate discussions and meetings. The committee also designed the submission process for the conference and assessed these submissions according to a carefully selected criteria, based on the agreed theme. The 2019 WikiIndaba Conference Program consisted of a healthy mix of lectures, workshops, tutorials, panels and roundtables. Furthermore, for the first time in WikiIndaba, the program schedule allowed for people to organize their own community meetups. This allowance turned out to be well utilized by participants.
Close to 40 formal sessions (presentations, panels, workshops, etc.) were presented by African Wikimedia volunteers, Wikimedia Foundation staff, and more. One participant said "This is the only conference I have seen full participation by attendees"
Networking and socializing is one of the core values of Wiki Indaba Conference. Two social events were organized for participants: Tour and special dinner. The tour was organized by Wikimedia Nigeria Foundation in collaboration with Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation and Tour Nigeria. Participants visited Shehu Musa Yar'adua Centre, located at One Memorial Drive in Abuja’s Central Business District. Yar’Adua Centre is a hub for social and civic engagements in Nigeria. There is a museum at the center that documents the life of Late Shehu Musa Yar'adua, a former presidential candidate who died two and a half years later in Abakaliki Prison. One of the participants described the tour as "Memorable and mind-blowing". Participants took various photographs at the center and climbed the bridge used to immortalized the late military personnel. We also visited Abuja Art and Craft Village situated behind the Musa Yar’adua Centre. It is a popular destination for art enthusiasts, a notable place to see and buy local art crafts in Nigeria. Some participants visited the Abuja National Mosque, Anglican Church of Nigeria, Zuma Rock, Jabi Boat Club, and the Jabi lake. A special dinner was held on the final day of the conference and various Nigerian cuisines and other Continental foods were served. The Igbo User Group entertained participants with local dance to Igbo music.
Although we planned to have a mini-party at the Jabi Boat Club, the management of the boat club was unresponsive after the second meeting with them. So, we couldn't have the party as planned. In general, the social events were interesting and from our own experience and feedback from participants, it was very successful
Project goal and measures of success
This section should reference the project goals and measures of success described in the approved grant submission. See your grant proposal to review the goals and metrics listed in the approved submission.
Provide the project goal here.
Our specific goals for the conference are to:
- Provide a platform for learning, capacity building and sharing of experiences and ideas on how to kick-start partnership projects
- Share knowledge among Wikimedia affiliates in Africa organizational development.
- Provide opportunities for training for chapters and user groups in African about program management, grants making and reporting
- Support meetups for thematic work in the health care, cultural, and educational/academic sector.
- Community management and leadership
The secondary goals of the event are:
- Create long-term networking and partnering opportunities with organizations from the cultural and educational sector (e.g. GLAM, universities, etc.) in the African region in order to build on the existing momentum and to achieve sustainability beyond the conference.
- Provide opportunities for face-to-face rapport-building connections between existing Wikimedia volunteers and community members to strengthening personal relationships between the participants and to improve the community health of the wikimedia movement.
Did you achieve your project goal? How do you know your goal was achieved?
Yes, we believed we achieved our project goals based on our own reflections during and after the conference, and the feedback from participants (see our evaluation feedback]), facilitators, affiliates and partners, we think we achieved this goal for Wiki Indaba 2019. We think the conference has been improved.
Measures of success
- List the measures of success exactly as provided in the approved grant submission, and evaluate your project according to each measure listed there.
|Measure (as proposed in the grant)||Results||Compliance|
|93.1% of participants agreed that the conference provided a platform for learning, capacity building and sharing of experiences and ideas on how to kick-start partnership projects||93.1 % in total agreement||Complied|
|89.7% of participants agreed that the conference provided a platform for sharing knowledge among Wikimedia affiliates in Africa's organizational development.||89.7 % in total agreement||Complied|
|62.1% of participants agreed that the conference provided opportunities for training for chapters and user groups in African about program management, grants making and reporting||62.1% in total agreement||Complied|
|65.5% of participants agreed that the conference provided a platform for Community management and leadership training||65.5 % in total agreement||Complied|
|48.3% of participants agreed that the conference supported meetups for thematic work in the health care, cultural, and educational/academic sector.||48.3 % in total agreement||Complied|
|79.3% of participants agreed that the conference program was well-structured.||79.3 % in total)||Complied|
|96.6% of participants were satisfied with pre-conference communication.||69 % very satisfied + 27.6 % fairly satisfied (= 96.6 % in total)||Complied|
|96.6% of participants were satisfied with the conference location, Abuja||86.2% very satisfied + 10.3% fairly satisfied (= 96.6 % in total)||Complied|
|79.3% of participants were very satisfied with conference accommodation||37.9% very satisfied + 41.4% fairly satisfied (= 79.3 % in total)||Complied|
|96.5% of participants were very satisfied with the conference social event||72.4% very satisfied + 24.1% fairly satisfied (= 96.5 % in total)||Complied|
|100% of participants were satisfied with the organization team support||89.7% very satisfied + 10.3 % fairly satisfied (= 100 % in total)||Complied|
|79.3% of participants agreed that the program was well structured||79.3% in total||Complied|
|100% of participants were satisfied with the conference logistics||62.1 very satisfied + 34.4% fairly satisfied (100% in total)||Complied|
|93.1% of participants were satisfied with the conference catering||62.1 very satisfied + 31% fairly satisfied (93.1% in total)||Complied|
|More than 60 people participate from more than 15 different countries in the region||63 people participate||Complied|
|At least 30 active members were trained on how to contribute to other Wikimedia Projects||More than 40 people were trained||Complied|
|At least 20 attendees participated as speakers or workshop trainers and every participant contributed to the diversity of the Conference by sharing their experience.||Over 30 attendees participated as speakers||Complied|
Please share a brief update about the status projects, important discussions and/or capacity building that took place at the event.
|Activities during the conference||2 months after the conference||6 months after the conference|
Were any significant issues your community discussed at the conference?
|We had about 30 formal sessions, several issues about the African Wikimedia community were raised and discussed. Some of the issues discussed included:
|Capacity Development: Please list capacity building sessions or workshops.||We had about 6 Capacity building sessions and at least an average of 15 people participated per training. Although, internet stability was an issue during training. If we are to have the training again, we will ensure that the internet is installed at the training venue, test-run before training Some of these sessions include
|Projects or Working Groups:
What are the most important projects that were started or improved during the conference?
Conferences and events do not always go according to plan. Sharing what you learned can help you and others plan similar projects in the future. Help the movement learn from your experience by answering the following questions:
- What worked well at the event?
1. Diversity of participants
Wiki Indaba 2019 despite having a reduced number of participants when compares to Wiki Indaba 2018 has the most diverse mix of participants. This year we have participants from at least 23 countries and more female participants which constitutes more than 40% of the total participants. We also have the participation of WMF staff and other mission-aligned organizations. This diversity made the conference more interesting. In 2016 and 2018, Wiki Indaba conference recorded participation from 18 countries with less than 30% female participants. So, in terms of diversity, Wiki Indaba has improved significantly and this is the most diverse Wikimedia Conference since 2014. The diversity of participants is one of the things that worked well at the conference. Although WMF ED was not present, we had the participation of the Foundation's Chief of Operation (COO) and at least 10 WMF Staff members which show that WMF staff has recognized the importance of Wiki Indaba conference and the values of the African Wikimedia Community in the Wikimedia movement.
2. Partnership with external organizations that shares our value
This year we had an incredible conference and a social event as a result of our partnership with organizations that shares our core values. Our partnership with the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation was instrumental to the Wiki Indaba Tour. Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) was responsible for the cost of the tour. They also provided two buses to convey conference participants to tourist centers including the Shehu Musa Yar'dua Center. The tour was managed by the organization. This relieved the organizing team and our volunteers the stress of managing a tour and all costs associated with it. The tour made the conference more interesting, memorable and fun. Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation is a federal government Agency and their involvement in this year's conference shows that the government recognized the values of the Wikimedia movement in Nigeria. Thus, this worked so well for the conference.
3. Airport protocol service and police escort
One of the concerns raised during the deliberation on where to host the Wiki Indaba Conference in Nigeria is a security concern. In other to avoid putting conference participants on security risk, we hired airport protocol service with a police escort to convey participants from the airport to the conference venue. This worked well especially for participants whose flight arrived very late (12:30 AM, 1:00 AM). No single case of casualty or security issues was recorded by the organization team. Thus, participants had smooth travel from the airport to their hotel and back to the airport for departure to their respective countries.
4. Outsourcing of Travel booking & Hotels
Travel booking is an essential operation that requires expertise. Thus, they were contracted to a competent Agency that managed the operation successfully. In collaboration with our communication team, they also manage communications with participants that have issues with the visa process. With our tight budget, the Agency was able to book flights for all conference participants successfully. This wouldn't have been very smooth if the Agency had not been contacted since the organizing team has little or no experience with travel bookings. So, the outsourcing of Travel booking & Hotels worked well for the conference.
5. Collaboration with Wikimedia affiliates in Nigeria
The organizing team collaborated with the three (3) other user groups in Nigeria namely; Yoruba Wikimedians User Group, Igbo Wikimedians User Group and Hausa Wikimedians User Group. These affiliates were very helpful at the conference venue. Some of their members worked closely with the Trust & Safety Team at WMF, management of the Conference Registration Desk, and Conference Help Desk. The Igbo Wikimedians User Group came with many souvenirs, which the group distributed to conference participants. They were supportive and readily available to help handle any task. This collaboration with other Wikimedia affiliates really worked well for the conference this year and we recommend such collaboration for Uganda Wikimedia Community who are the host of Wiki Indaba in the year 2020.
6. Program sessions
As evident in our metrics and feedback from participants, the conference's program sessions worked very well. Before the approved and final official programs were published, we reviewed previous Wiki Indaba conference reports ( particularly the 2016 and 2018 report). We realized that in both past conferences, the programs were very packed and speakers or trainers had to rush through their sessions and presentations in order to give a chance for other sessions. According to both reports, the program had many activities and speakers did not adapt to the timeline they had. The program committee and the organization team ensured that speakers adapt to the time allocated for their presentation. This really worked well for the conference.
- What did not work so well?
1. Internet connection problems
Good internet connection is an integral part of Wikimedia events including workshops, edit-athon, and conferences. During capacity building sessions, it enables conference participants to experiment with what they were thought, work or edit projects directly. In conferences, especially Wikimedia conferences such as Wiki Indaba, participants need good internet connections to make video calls, one of such call is to inform their family about the status of their trip, they also need it to upload and download information or data. The organizing team was well aware of the importance of good internet connection, we made the necessary inquiry for WiFi and the cost implication of having separate wifi (within our budget) at the conference venue since the hotel could not guarantee a good connection at conference halls. Unfortunately, The company could not install the wifi, test-run it and get paid at a later day and our fiscal sponsor insisted on not sending money directly to the organizing team to make the payment.
Felix Nartey, The Chair of Open West Africa Foundation (our fiscal sponsor) came with cash a day before the conference and the payment was done that evening. The installation was done at the conference on the morning of the conference, so they don't have enough time to test-run the wifi and consequently, we had suboptimal internet connections throughout the conference days. This is regrettable!
2. Nigeria Visa policy
We received several complaints from participants during visa application and there is at least one instance where the Chair, Olaniyan Olushola had to speak to a consular before a visa was granted. The complaints included not responsiveness to emails, calls, and miscommunication. So, many participants could not get a visa on time. This put our contracted booking agency in a position where they had to make some extremely difficult decisions. Although, our team predicted this occurrence and we tried to meet officials of Nigerian Foreign Affairs ministry at least two months before the conference but a decision about the conference date was not made on time. Thus, our meeting with the official was not possible.
In the future, Wiki Indaba Conference host should involve the relevant government agency in their country during planning for the conference.
3. The challenge of finding the venue that suits the conference
We were faced with the challenge of finding the venue that suits the conference. Twin bedrooms were recommended by the WMF and the Wiki Indaba Steering Committee. A twin bedroom is not popular in Nigeria, so it was difficult to get a hotel that has a twin bedroom. We spent several days persuading the hotel management to get a twin bed for the conference. After much effort with the support of an Agency that helped with negotiation, the management eventually bought more beds, but it was very challenging and stressful. Based on this experience, we will recommend that the budget for accommodation should be prepared based on the host country's culture. Diversity is one of the core values of the Wikimedia movement. What works well in Europe, for example, doesn't necessarily work in Africa.
4. Fiscal sponsor
While having a fiscal sponsor to support a conference such as Wiki Indaba Conference, it's important for the roles and expectations to be clearly defined. The host and fiscal sponsor need to understand these roles including the limitation of the fiscal sponsor and that of the host with respect to finances. Felix Nartey, The Chair of Open West Africa Foundation (our fiscal sponsor) who administered the fund was a member of Wiki Indaba Steering Committee and Scholarship Review Committee. It was sometimes very difficult for the organizing team to identify whether some of his decisions were made in his capacity as a WISCOM member or as a fiscal sponsor.
The idea that a fiscal sponsor must give cash to vendors is incompatible with good financial management. Based on our own experience, this kind of idea should be strongly discouraged. Some funds may be wired directly to the conference organizer in as much as a receipt will be provided for any payment.
- What would you do differently next time?
1. Working with attendees paying for themselves or funded by their affiliates
Scholarships are limited and WMF may not be able to fund all applicants. So, we realized that many applicants may want to pay for themselves or get funded by their affiliates. How do we manage this category of participants? Historically, Indaba has been a closed conference and not open to the public but there is a need to determine the status of eligible participants (African Wikimedians) who did not receive funding from WMF. Their status needs to be extensively discussed. Again, the organizing team is also going to face the challenges of managing a large number of participants. Next time, the organizing team should open a broad discussion on the status of this category of participants, so that the decision about their participation is timely determined.
2. Scholarship selection
African Wikimedia Community is increasingly developing and there is a need to have an open and fair selection process. The 2019 Scholarship Review Committee did amazingly well because of its tripartite (WISCOM, Host & Community). Based on our experience and reflections, we think the scholarship committee for Wiki Indaba Conference should follow this approach/model for future Indaba with the support and supervision of a WMF staff.
Is there anything else you want to share about the conference or event?
Wikimedia movement is fast-growing in Africa and we believe that the value gained from investing more resources into the conference was significant to the African community and appreciated. We are proud to achieve our ambitious goals. On this note, we want to thank the Wikimedia Foundation, Open West Africa Foundation, NTDC, Plus TV Africa and the African Wikimedia community for their support and contribution to the success of this conference.
We also want to congratulate the Uganda Wikimedia community who will host Wiki Indaba 2020. They are welcome to contact members of the organizing team for Wiki Indaba 2019 if they require any help.