Meet Ako Allan: The Man Who Has Digitally Trained Over 100 Southern Cameroonian Refugees In Nigeria
Ako Allan is an Asylum Seeker who fled from targeted search from Cameroon security forces in connection to the armed conflict in 2017, in Southern Cameroons. A graduate in Mathematics and minor in Computer Science from the University of Buea , an Oracle database SQL certified Expert , Mr Ako, in May 2018, created PEECREN – ICT project at the Adagom refugee settlement Ogoja where he has trained over 100 refugees in Computer ABCs, word processing, spreadsheet and other desktop publishing including photoshop.
In October 2017, after the Southern Cameroons, pro-independence leaders declared the independence of the former British territory, the government decided to launch a manhunt on anyone who held different political views. That is how the Littoral regional youth coordinator of the Social Democratic Front party, SDF, ran away from Cameroon. He had been very popular on TV talking about the conflict. “I ran away in October 2017. I was in a list of targeted youths, graduate from UB and ex UBSU officials. There was a warrant of arrest against me in connection to the crisis. I was alerted and when I had left, they came to my office (the Douala 4 sub-divisional council) But thank God I had escaped already.” He told CNA.
Since he left Cameroon, he settled in a refugee camp in Ogoja where he has been able to impact the lives of some refugees in the digital world. Ako Allan has been able to teach some basics in computer to refugees who wished to learn a trade.
This is a project for the economic empowerment of Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria, through ICT (PEECREN-ICT). I started mobilizing refugees for this capacity building since last year May before we moved into the settlements. Its in two stages; for the phase 1, I train them in computer ABCs, word processing, spreadsheet and other desktop publishing including photoshop. Currently we have 100 students enrolled and active in at phase 1, with four assistant trainers in the above disciplines.
Despite the basket of challenges, he faces on a daily basis, Ako Allan surmounted them and is moving from one stage to another. A Cameroonian Foundation called the Acha Foundation has stepped in to provide stipends to the volunteers for six months and Mr. Ako says it is a laudable initiative.
We are graduating the first batch from phase 1 by ending October when they must have had hands-on skills on the above. It is the above human resources that the Acha Foundation has taken a six months commitment to provide their stipends. Now the second phase will be launched and will focus on livelihood opportunities through the digital economy. The idea is to put them on 6 months to 1-year training on specific skills. Now as it stands, we have a hall within the settlement which I requested for and the UNHCR built it. But it is not equipped with anything, so we are hoping they commission it soon so we start using it and thereby source for equipment.” He said.
After the second phase of the project, the trainees can operate as freelancers and self-employed or employed somewhere after
obtaining skills in computer programing, Blogging, Digital marketing, Web designing, Creative writing among others.
There are over 50,000 Southern Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria and over 500, 000 Internally Displaced in Cameroon.