AfriKo, the research and consultancy center dubbed the unicorn of Lithuania's non-governmental sector, is expanding the geography of its activities and from now on will be known as "OSMOS Global Partnerships". In 2023, OSMOS attracted nearly €4 million in European Union funding and over the next 3 years will connect not only Lithuania and Nigeria, but also Latvia, Estonia, Kenya, Armenia and Iraq for IT talent acceleration and knowledge exchange.
"When AfriKo was founded in 2015, we were looking for meaningful ways to work with African countries, bringing together Lithuanian business, political, cultural and academic communities already working or interested in the region. Our cooperation recipe has been celebrated not only in Lithuania, but also recognised as an EU success story," says Žilvinas Švedkauskas, Managing Director at OSMOS.
AfriKo, together with partners, implemented the Digital Explorers project between 2019 and 2022. This initiative provided professional development opportunities for young Nigerian IT talents in front-running Lithuanian companies, created EUR 2.5 million of added value for the Lithuanian IT sector, stimulated direct investment in Nigeria by TeleSoftas, and opened up opportunities for FinTech cooperation between Lithuania and Nigeria.
OSMOS continued success is the result of close cooperation with IT companies and government institutions.
"The war in Ukraine makes it clear that we have no choice but to build global coalitions of like-minded partners who speak up for international law and multilateralism. Whether in Africa, the Middle East or Asia, we need to broaden Lithuania's circle of friends.
OSMOS initiatives are an excellent practical policy tool to propose concrete models of cooperation," says Mantas Adomėnas, Deputy Foreign Minister of Lithuania.
The organisation's philosophy remains unchanged. The implementation of innovative international cooperation, digitalisation and talent exchange projects will continue to be complemented by analytical activities, such as applied research on Baltic foreign policy and EU external relations, and cooperation with media and academic institutions.
"OSMOS is a unique organisation in the Baltics that combines practical work and generation of new knowledge for Lithuanian foreign policy, especially in regions of the world with which we do not have long-standing economic, political or personal links. Knowledge created through OSMOS activities contributes to the fact that in the international arena Lithuania and Baltics as small states can punch above their weight," adds Prof. Margarita Šešelgytė, Director of the Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius University.
The organic expansion of activities and geography is also reflected in the organisation's new name and visual identity. OSMOSIS is a Latin word describing spontaneous yet harmonious movement of particles.
"Our symbol, the West African Dwennimmen, is a bird’s eye view of two rams butting horns, representing courage and humbleness. OSMOS encodes the values that have been at the heart of what we do for the past 8 years - knowledge-based experimentation and the exchange of ideas," shares Žilvinas Švedkauskas.