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August 02, 2017

Inspired by the Next Generation of African Leaders

By | Blog, Global development, ICT4D, Principles for Digital Development, Sustainable Development Goals, Tech innovations

 

Yesterday, the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL) participated in the Partnership Expo at the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. This fellowship is part of an initiative launched by President Obama in 2010 to support the next generation of African Leaders.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship brought together hundreds of young African professionals, age 18-35 years, representing all regions of the continent, from Mauritius to Burkina Faso. The summit was part of a six-month long program that involved meeting U.S. government officials and leaders from prominent non-profits, business and learning institutions in the U.S. As an organization working in the global digital space, DIAL was invited to join a host of other organizations showcasing their work.

DIAL's Sarah Siguenza speaks with one of the young entrepreneurs at YALI 2017.

DIAL’s Sarah Siguenza speaks with one of the young entrepreneurs at YALI 2017.

I was inspired by the stories of the young leaders I met. Participants were outgoing and driven, and it wasn’t hard to see their leadership skills and entrepreneurial spirit on display.

“I am a serial entrepreneur and I wear many hats. I run a business incubator and work with a car sharing service in Djibouti” said one participant. “We call it ‘Djuber,’” he added in reference to the American ride-sharing company, Uber.

As emerging entrepreneurs, many of the participants were interested in learning more about opportunities for partnership, funding and training to help their individual initiatives. For example, one participant had started a computer literacy training center and was looking for efficient ways to find partners and donors to help the project scale. At the DIAL booth, the fellows were incredibly interested in the Principles for Digital Development, our data for development work and ICT literacy resources that could help others became more proficient on how to use digital technology and tools to solve information problems.

“I run a honey processing company in Nigeria, and we are trying to train women in basic business practices. I am looking for opportunities for partnership,” said another female entrepreneur from Nigeria.

DIAL Fellow Maurice Sayinzoga takes a selfie with a software engineer from Malawi at YALI 2017.

DIAL Fellow Maurice Sayinzoga takes a selfie with a software engineer from Malawi at YALI 2017.

The conference was not only a showcase of entrepreneurs but also of the cultural diversity of the African continent expressed through eccentric couture. One of those young leaders was a software engineer from Malawi, who arguably had the most unique outfit.

The gentleman discussed how it’s hard to start an e-business company in his home country and how it takes more than one initiative to bring about a more inclusive digital society. At DIAL, we understand this challenge and are constantly trying to identify and promote best practices for partnerships among public and private sector organizations.

The Partnership Expo was a good reflection of this synergy among different actors that needs to happen to drive more positive change in Africa, particularly sub-Saharan Africa. DIAL is proud to participate in such events that bring together a community of young African leaders working at the forefront of some of the continent’s most pressing challenges, particularly in the digital space.

Maurice Sayinzoga joined the Digital Impact Alliance as a fellow with the Insights and Impact team for the summer of 2017. He has a Master’s degree in Global Human Development from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and has worked in Rwanda with the Education Development Center on a youth livelihoods development project. Sayinzoga has also worked with the Boston-based non-profit Partners in Health (PIH).

 

 

July 25, 2017

On the Road to the SDGs: Progress from the Field

By | Blog, Global development, ICT4D, Sustainable Development Goals, Tech innovations

The Chinese philosopher Laozi said that “a journey of a thousand miles begin with a single step.” The international community is taking a long journey towards achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 but often, important steps taken in New York or Geneva seem far away from the realities of the developing world.

This was not the case earlier this month. In Dar es Salaam and Arusha, Tanzania, the progressive views from the Government of Tanzania and the African telecommunications sectors convinced me that the future is closer than we imagine. My week started at the GSMA’s Mobile 360 Africa conference and ended in northeastern Tanzania visiting health clinics across the Arusha region.

Nurses scan child health cards at a facility in Tanzania. (Photo credit: PATH/Trevor Snapp)

GSMA’s Mobile 360 conference in Dar brought together operators, governments and multilateral actors to discuss how collaboration could support technology efforts to achieve both profit and social good. Tanzania, under its Vision 2025 plan and the overall leadership of its president, H.E. John Magufuli, has committed its considerable talent and resources to moving to a semi-industrialized economy with technology as a key underpinning. This commitment was demonstrated from the opening moments of the GSMA event, in which the vice president of Tanzania, H.E. Samia Suluhu, spoke eloquently of the need for strong public/private partnerships and technology collaborations. She noted that only by working together could Tanzania realize its “Vision 2025” plan and its commitments to the SDG 2030 goals.  In her words, making mobiles work for Sub-Saharan Africa means that the 60% of Tanzanian citizens who live in rural areas must have reliable internet access in order to increase access to health, agriculture and education services, not to mention access to credit. Today, one third of Tanzanians have a formal bank account but 44% have access to mobile money. The adoption rate is impressive given that mobile money was first introduced in Tanzania in 2008. Yet despite this progress, women are 17% less likely to own a mobile phone and are being left behind, particularly as young mothers.

A few days later, I was with these young mothers as they waited to receive early childhood immunizations for their infants and toddlers. Both they and the health center staff were delighted that tasks that used to be completed on nights and weekends, could now be accomplished in minutes and with higher accuracy thanks to four years of hard work by the government, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the international NGO, PATH. To date, together they have equipped over 285 health centers with tablets and an electronic immunization registry that can register patients, identify what vaccine doses they need, and ensure that supplies are on hand so that no mother’s visit to the center is wasted. As a result, more than 80,000 children are registered in the Electronic Immunization Registry.  The BID Initiative is entering its fifth year of operation and its progress will continue as the Government of Tanzania and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, bolstered by the promising results in Arusha, have committed to extend the system nationwide. Building on this work, DIAL is entering a partnership with BID to determine where we can co-mingle non-personally identifiable data with operator level data to answer epidemiological questions that facility data alone cannot reveal.

Each of these steps alone is not enough to achieve Tanzania’s SDG goals but cumulatively, they point in a direction that we can all support to ensure that the journey to 2030 comes even earlier than planned.

 

 

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