Highlights from ICT4SI17

Kiiya JK

Director / ICT4SI East Africa Network Lead, Sema Tanzania

Prior to this year’s ICT 4 Social Innovation Conference #ICT4SI17, our main funder SPIDER hosted a two day training for Network Leads across Africa, Asia and Latin America (#PENTHIO ) to enable Network leads to improve on how they manage networks that focus on Sustainable Development. The workshop took place in Abuja, Nigeria on 23rd-24th November 2017. This was closely followed by the ICT4SI Conference which also included members day (meeting of ICT4 Social Innovation members to discuss network agenda and plan for 2018) from 25th-26th November 2017. Our East Africa Lead and member from SemaTanzania wrote an account of his experience below:

Guest post by KIIYA JK – ICT4SI Network Lead for East Africa

My experience at Africa’s largest economy is memorable. First things first and by extension, I would like to thank SPIDER, iHub, Afrilabs and MSH Idea Lab for logistics (making sure I arrived and left Nigeria in one piece). That aside, there was this #PENTHIO word which I was introduced to, it originates from Senegalese Wolof community, they use #PENTHIO to mean sharing!

Yes, plenty to share there was at this year’s #ICT4SI17. Knowledge was shared on how to make networks more effective and efficient. That we should focus on needs rather than problems. An example was given of a person who gets tired too early at a workstation. A quick fix to his ‘tiredness problem’ could include having loads of cups of coffee to stay active all day through! However, a needs-based approach solution may be more rest at night (sleep time).

Then came the leadership equation that was presented by Kerstin Borglin, Spider’s director. She shared her story which goes back over 20 years working for Ericsson in management positions both in Sweden and abroad, working with projects and companies in Sub Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe, The Middle East and North America. Spider stands for Swedish Program for ICT in Developing Regions.

Kerstin, SPIDER’s director, says leadership needs: vision; clarity; agility (i.e. listen to those you should not be listening to, ones you dislike – she calls this maturity stage of leadership – the ability to accommodate strong critics); courage; provide management structure; perseverance (most of time 🙂 ); communication; integrity; trust (trust that your team can do it without relentless control, use that time to attend to leadership matters); and accountability (whenever something goes wrong at the organization, it is your fault!)

Public-private-academia-partnership, yes that was introduced by Associate Prof. Caroline Wamala Larsson and Dr Edgar Asiimwe from SPIDER’s research arm. They stressed that monitoring must always begin at any project’s onset to yield tangible results. Epistemological question must be responded to before an intervention is sought. Simply put, ‘how do you know what you know?’ Yet most organisations in our part of the world do very little to embrace the use of a pool of academia available in our institutions. If well utilised, these researchers may not only be a great resources in work we do, but also may help boost organization research capacity, for good.

‘If your ICT innovation doesn’t meet business process needs,
you are wasting time and resources.’
Olasupo Oyedepo from African Alliance of Digital Health Networks

We learnt that ICT tools are set up to meet business process needs.  An instance that fits well in this scenario was given by the CEO of M-Power who said most M-Health initiatives die because they treat Community Health Workers as data collectors, they are not designed to mimic current workflow and they are not linked to overall health information system / infrastructure.

Lastly, we concluded that for an ICT tool to work for people, people need to be at the centre of its design. That a Nigerian politician responding to critics of Buhari’s time attending treatments in London once said, ‘You cannot shave a man’s head in his absence.’ Similarly Mwalimu Nyerere once said, ‘People know what their needs are, ask them.’ Design with the user, remember to make your ICT interoperable!

‘Doing is the best kind of thinking’ – Tom Chi, Google X Co-Founder. A friend in Nigeria challenged us while responding to the question why Africans do not share knowledge compared to other parts of the world. You think they don’t? Just Google how to cook ugali. Share your responses! The Nigerian friend said we should keep posting. One post at a time – that way Africa will change for better.


*Photocredit: (c) SPIDER 2017

Western Africa forum event – Leave no one behind

Western Africa forum event – Leave no one behind

AfriLabs and ICT4SI have partnered to host our first West African ICT 4 Social Innovation workshop in Abuja, Nigeria, on July 27, 2017.

The workshop will take the theme: “Leave no one behind – a multi-sector action for African ICT solutions to bridge gaps through social innovation”.

The event aims to create a cross-sector platform for collaboration in education, health and rights-focused innovation; and will bring together various stakeholders including civil society organisations (CSOs), private sector agents, researchers, government officials and technology experts.

The workshop is organised in conjunction with local partner Management Sciences for Health (MSH), who said there is a need to highlight the urgent role of ICT in social innovation.

“This event is a milestone in bringing African tech experts to make reality of problem-solving so that we can collectively be a region known for secure, innovative and inclusive ICT infrastructure which enables Nigeria and our neighbours to have better education, health and transparency,” said Benjamin Akinmoyeje of MSH.

The workshop will see international tech experts give presentations feeding into discussions on the challenges and opportunities in ICT for development (ICT4D), the practical applications and successes, and the next steps in network sustainability. Email ict4si@spidercenter.org for more information or send us a message on our social media channels

twitter.com/AfricanICT4SI @AfricanICT4SI


MSH IDEALab Nigeria www.facebook.com/mshnigeriaidealab/



The ICT4SI network event is supported by iHub Kenya and funded by SPIDER

Building a Regional Network – what is required?

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

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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.