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Category Archives: Sustainable Development Goals

June 28, 2017

Youth Entrepreneurs and Digital Development

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

Last month, I had the opportunity to attend the Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) Youth Unconference in Kigali, Rwanda. The Unconference served as a platform for over 100 youths from 10 countries in the DOT network to come together and learn from each other’s experiences on ways to improve the impact of their social enterprises. To say these young people were an inspiration would be an understatement — they were intelligent, civic-minded, and passionate about technology and its ability to improve the economies of their countries.

For example, I met one young man developing sustainably produced menstruation pads, made from shredded banana leaf fiber, that sell for half the cost of normal pads allowing more young girls to stay in school when they otherwise would have to stay home. Another young woman produces and sells solar lamps to communities without power. I also met an entrepreneur who conceptualized a new method for inexpensively producing flour from carrots and other root vegetables that can be made into porridge as a safe solution to mother and child malnutrition.

The Unconference, with the theme of “Create Your Opportunity”, included youth-led workshops which focused on barriers to digital opportunities, and what youth can be doing to address those challenges. Many of these young people highlighted the way gender and culture factors into access and education around technology. More than one workshop discussed the digital gender divide, and discussed the importance of engaging girls in ICT as early as possible — and how to continue encouraging them as they get older. Christelle Kwizera, a panelist and mechanical engineer from Rwanda, put it this way: “When you start in primary school, everything looks normal. There are boys and girls. But when you go to college and engineering school, there are fewer women [and] you start to realize that all of your colleagues are male… You have no role models, so I wanted to return to Rwanda and be that role model.”

Group Photo from DOT Unconference

A group photo from Aisha’s workshop session on barriers for women in ICT.

My own session, which was co-led by an exceptional young woman named Aisha Abdul-Qadir, discussed how young people adopting the Principles of for Digital Development at an early stage can leverage digital technology to start companies, innovate new technologies, and/or improve their community. The Principles can serve as a guide to can help them achieve broader adoption and sustainability for their work. Participants in the session shared challenges they have faced in implementing programs in the past, what digital tools and solutions were available to them at the time, and what resources they wish they had. These insights will help our team at the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL) shape new content that will be launched later this year.

It was such an honor to meet these young social entrepreneurs, each at a different stage of their journey. I believe it will be only a few years — if not sooner — until we see the impact they’ve made around the globe.

This blog was originally posted on the Digital Opportunity Trust’s Medium account. View it here.

 Allana Nelson joined the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL) in March 2017 as the Program Manager for the Principles for Digital Development on the Insights and Impact team. In this position, she is responsible for promotion, education, and advocacy of the Principles. Prior to joining DIAL, Allana worked at USAID on technology-based solutions to the Ebola response and recovery efforts in West Africa.



May 15, 2017

DIAL’s Plans at 2017 ICT4D Conference in Hyderabad, India

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

From May 15-18, the ninth annual ICT4D Conference will be held in Hyderabad, India. This annual conference brings together more than 1,000 attendees from public, private and civil society organizations from across the humanitarian and international development community to discuss how they’ve used innovations in technology to increase the impact of their work.

This year, the conference will focus on ways to harness the power of data to accelerate progress toward the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and increase the impact of ICT4D programs. One of the key means of achieving the SDGs, including all 17 targets and 169 indicators, is through the collection, analysis and effective utilization of data. For this year’s conference, DIAL has organized a track dedicated to data-driven adaptation and strategy. Throughout ICT4D, participants will explore actionable ways the international development community can use data to influence their decision making, programmatic strategies and more. Additional speaker themes include the impact of digital transformation on development; innovations in data visualization and analytics; enablers and barriers to open data sharing; and frontier solutions and their contribution to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.

Kate's Slide at ICT4DDIAL will participate in several sessions throughout ICT4D. To kick-off the conference on Monday, May 15, DIAL’s CEO Kate Wilson and Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary of the Industries & Commerce and Information Technology Departments for the Telangana government, will participate in a discussion around India’s eGovernment Transformation. Wilson and Ranjan will explore India’s application of digital technology in government and the lessons it provides to others across the public and private sectors in our collective efforts to advance ICT4D innovation to achieve the SDGs. Key questions will focus on what takeaways countries can learn from India’s experience in eGovernment transformation, what has worked well and what others should do differently based on the India and Telengana cases. Other discussion topics will focus on how the IT Ministry in Telengana sees their efforts tying to the SDGs and what additional support from other digital development actors is needed to support efforts to reach the SDGs.

Melissa Johns, Senior Director, Insights and Impact, and Wameek Noor, Director of Insights, will participate in a session that shares key learnings from practitioners who have played key roles in scaling digital solutions, especially past the four to five year mark of a service. Challenges to scaling deployments may be a funding cliff, a leadership change, an expansion to a new market or location, new competition, or the entry of government into program ownership. Deployments face common questions as they navigate transitions, with respect to their program strategy, business models, solution design, human capacity and regulatory policy.

Noor will also hold a user testing session around a new DIAL project that will create a resource to enable digital service providers to move beyond pilot projects and start-up phases to reach sustainable scale and achieve greater impact. DIAL can source best practices directly from organizations that are managing these transitions around the globe in diverse sectors and provide pragmatic how-to guidance that maturing projects can use for their own models.

Syed Raza, Senior Director, Data, will participate on a panel exploring the potential impacts and benefits of data sharing for private sector entities and the barriers to realizing them in the development context. The focus of the discussion will question the often unexamined premises in the current data sharing debate and explore the incentives, processes, resources and platforms needed to make increased private sector data sharing a reality.

Carolyn Florey, Director, Collective Impact, will hold two sessions on the Principles for Digital Development (PDD), showcasing the toolkit and hosting a workshop to discuss feedback. The Principles for Digital Development are “living” guidelines that can help development practitioners integrate established best practices into technology-enabled programs. They are written by and for international development donors, multilateral organizations, and implementing partners, and they are freely available for use by all. The Principles are intended to serve as guidance rather than edict, and to be updated and refined over time. In 2016, DIAL was asked to take over stewardship and operationalization of the PDDs.

Florey is also hosting a session on the Broadband Commission Working Group on Digital Health. The Working Group, co-chaired by the Novartis Foundation and Nokia, commissioned Vital Wave to conduct research and to interview digital health leaders from twenty countries to explore the role governments play in developing and implementing digital health. This session will share the results of the exploration and provide practical guidance on leadership, governance and intragovernmental cooperation to leaders in health and ICT who will to adopt a digital health strategy.

DIAL will also be co-hosting a session with World Vision International that will bring together practitioners have been working on issues of data protection, privacy and security to discuss existing and potential standards, policies, frameworks, approaches and tools. World Vision International will share an overview of its recent white paper on data protection, privacy and security. Participants will then discuss key resources, recommended approaches to existing standards and delineation of a collaborative effort to build a suite of resources that all organizations implementing ICT4D can benefit from.

For a full schedule, visit https://2017ict4dconference.sched.com/

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