This post was previously published on September 27, 2010, on posterous. (It's reproduced here because posterous no longer exists.)
Dadamac - the Internet-enabled alternative to top-down development.
We observed many projects and interventions where people in “the developed world” were doing something “in Africa”. Despite being well resourced many projects seemed poorly rooted in reality, and thus of dubious relevance and minimal long term benefit. Despite lots of websites and talk about web 2.0 there seemed to be little genuine two-way communication. Most of the time we only saw top-down approaches inherited from structures that were put in place before the Internet existed.
A desire for change?
Cynicism suggests that some vested interests are happy with the top-down status quo and have no desire to change. Optimism suggests that many people would adopt better ways if only they could find them. We decided to stop complaining about the failure of "top down" projects to reach down effectively (to their stated beneficiaries and stakeholders) and instead make more effort to "reach up" to them and others - hence Dadamac
A socio-technical solution
We do have better tools for two way communication now - through the Internet and mobile phones. (In Dadamac we have Zittnet.) We know from our own UK-Nigeria collaborative work that it is important to work on the human side of things as well as the technical side. It takes patience and commitment, but it is possible to have effective two-way communication and genuine UK-Nigeria cross-cultural collaboration. Given that we know it can be done, we want to help it to happen more widely.
Dadamac is the short-cut to effective collaboration and participation
By setting up Dadamac we offer people the opportunity to work with us, to share our tried and tested ways of doing things (in theory or in practice). On a theoretical level we can share the lessons that we have learned, and explore how those lessons apply in other situations (not just UK-Nigeria). On a practical level we can work with people to implement projects. Legally, Dadamac has two identities. There is a registered charity (Dadamac Foundation) and a registered company (Dadamac Limited). These two structures enable us to work appropriately with people outside the Dadamac Community in the ways that suit them best. We offer vision, or practical support, to help people to find and take the better ways they are seeking, in whatever organisational culture suits them best.
The easiest way to get started with us is to contact us and I can suggest ways we might help you to achieve your objectives.