Coworking is a growing activity in Senegal, Mali, and Burkina Faso
Jokkolabs is a social change hub that is now in its third year of operation. A cluster for social change based on an organic community of entrepreneurs, Jokkolabs now boasts coworking space in Senegal (Dakar and Saint Louis), Mali (Bamako), Burkina Faso (Ouagadougou), and France (Paris-Nanterre). Membership is open to the entire local community with members having the option to use the offices and connectivity, organize workshops, and host weekend events.
The spaces are perfect for the self-employed who need a suitable office or for small groups. In essence, members pool all utilities and rent costs. Benefits of such a shared work environment also go beyond the tangible. Often, simply the exchange of ideas, references, and general encouragements is enough to make an idea become reality.
Jokkolabs routinely promotes the use of open technology in Senegal. A variety of influential groups meet at the space. They include Mobile Monday Dakar, Drupal Senegal, and Mozilla Senegal. Some of the more recent events held at the space were #Codecamp 2013 (held June 24th), 3D printing workshops held in Dakar (June 14th and 28th), and Drupal Training (held on June 14 in Saint Louis). All sorts of other events have been held at Jokkolabs including Startup Weekends, hackathons, presentations, and other developer events.
There is more to Senegal than Dakar. Accordingly, Jokkolabs Saint-Louis joined the family in May 2013 after operating as Ndar Numérique for two years. More community events, a brand new 3D printer, and Raspberry Pi boards are expected in the coming months. The team is also studying the adoption of open hardware throughout West Africa.
In Bamako, Jokkolabs offers one month membership for 60,000F. Services are generally the same as in Senegal, just on a smaller scale. Entrepreneurship, access to information, and Open Data are favorite subjects and events are often held on Fridays. Internet is supplied by three-384kbps load balanced connections. Solar panels provide power during outages. Successful projects thus far include setting up a voter registration hotline using SMS, a keyboard layout for languages of Mali, and photographic contributions to Wikimedia Commons. Note: Although half the population of Mali is under the age of 25, very few Malians know how to code.
Over in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, the very new Jokkolabs space has already played host to members of Internet Society BF. Plus, at least three “#TweetUp226” events have been held to discuss wider adoption of Twitter and professional use of social networks.
Also in Senegal, CTIC Dakar is the 1st business accelerator and incubator in the country specially dedicated to ICT and mobile technologies. The space hosts a variety of events and also offers a top-notch experience for early stage tech businesses.
P.S. Jokko is a Wolof term majority language of Senegal, born from the association of Joxko meaning “give him” and Jotko meaning “joined the”. It is used to express the concepts of communication, exchange, sharing and integration in the community.