Building a Regional Network – what is required?
By Anne and Edna
The ICT 4 Social Innovation Conference and Network (ICT4SI) was established in 2015 by iHub Kenya and SPIDER. We held the first meeting in Kigali, Rwanda. The idea to set up a network that connected organisations working in the education and health sectors across Africa was explored by participating organisations. Emerging questions from the first meeting were issues around:
- What is the purpose of the regional network within a development agenda?
- How do you encourage organisations in different countries/sectors to collaborate on projects that advance development with ICT* as a tool?
- How do you ensure ownership and commitment of members to the aim of the network and stimulate and encourage successful partnerships for health and education?
- Funding and sustainability; how do we ensure that the network, and initiatives using ICT innovatively for social good, can be sustainable?
With these questions in mind, in 2016, iHub and SPIDER, co-founders of the ICT4SI network held the 2nd regional Member’s Day and conference in Nairobi, Kenya. During the member’s day, participants discussed what attracted members to the network, how the forum would work best in their regions as well as what organisations were willing to commit to the network.
You can find brief highlights in the video below
Participating organisations had a chance to “speed date” to identify other organisations they could collaborate with. During the Member’s Day, participants expressed that the network needs to be active throughout the year, rather than just at an annual meeting.
We announced the formation of the sub-regional forums- one in Eastern Africa, Western Africa and Southern Africa. These sub-regional forums enable members to collaborate on, and bring forth projects which they can show-case at the annual conference.
Fast forward to 2017, we have set up of the regional sub-forums. The initial plan is to start with an activity that builds the capacity of the organisations regionally (Eastern Africa, Western Africa and Southern Africa) to enable member organisations to speak with a common language, embedded in the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. With limited initial funding available, innovative ways to keep the sub regional events engaging yet accessible to member organisation are fast taking shape. The ICT4SI network also opens up opportunities for existing technical networks, leadership programmes, and Development and Private Partnership forums to link to our unique network, to make investment more effective. So far we have engaged a range of organisations in the sub-regions who are keen to benefit from the ICT4SI network and see great potential in greater collaborations across sector and country borders.
Our first event will be in Zambia in April 2017 and we are calling on organisations working in these sectors (health, education and advocacy) to email us if you want a chance to participate in the event.
We work hard to also challenge our members to think outside the box, to use people focused technology and to realise the potential of African ICT innovations.The ICT4SI network therefore welcomes ideas for collaborative activities in these themes and will keep you posted on the progress.
Till then, we leave you with the announcement for the Next ICT4SI conference in 2017
*ICT = Information and Communication Technologies and includes any technical devices, such as radio, mobile phones and software solutions.