DIAL Board Member Juliana Rotich Speaks on African Tech Revolution at Social Good Summit 2017

Juliana Rotich at the 2017 Social Good Summit

Yesterday, Juliana Rotich, co-founder of BRCK and Ushahidi, and Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL) board member, spoke at the Social Good Summit about Africa’s tech revolution and the potential for data to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The panel was moderated by Bob Collymore, CEO of Safaricom, and also featured Oscar Ekponimo, Founder and CEO of Chowberry.

The tech revolution in Africa is already having a profound effect on the continent. As Bob Collymore said “Africa isn’t a mobile-first country, it’s a mobile-only country,” and the opportunities to leverage data for social good are vast. Africa has embraced digital tools and services, and the innovation from entrepreneurs continues to encourage this momentum.

However, there are also challenges to further digital adoption. One point that was brought up is the need to scale solutions that work to reach more people. To accomplish this, public and private sector partners need to work together and do more to connect markets.

The panel also discussed the importance of an inclusive culture for technology – both in hiring more women in technology-driven careers and encouraging women to pursue training and education in tech careers. Juliana stated that at a foundational level, we need to ensure more women are trained and recruited for technology positions. It’s also critical that they are provided with mentorship and networking opportunities to be successful. Additionally, we should be encouraging women from all backgrounds to explore education opportunities in the tech field.

In a follow-up interview, Juliana stressed the importance of data for development to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“I’m excited about the frontier of data for development. With the mobile revolution, we’ve seen a lot more data being generated. The question now is – how can we use the insights to figure out what are the indicators that can be used for development purposes. When we look at the SDGs and what needs to happen, we know the goals cannot be realized if we don’t figure out how to use data and technology to accelerate the pace. Data for development offers us an opportunity to discover effective solutions that can be useful and have an impact on the quality of life for people from all facets of life – including the poorest.”

The Social Good Summit is a unique gathering of world leaders, global activists and influencers that come together to discuss innovations in media and technology to make the world a better place by 2030. This year, the program highlighted how the United Nations and other organizations are using technology to support the Global Goals. From crowdsourcing reporting on sexual assault to having the voice activated Alexa connect people to advocacy asks, the latest innovations are supporting the creation of a better world.

Bob, Juliana and Oscar joined other speakers, including:

  • Kathy Calvin, President & CEO of the United Nations Foundation
  • Bob Weir, Founding Member of the Grateful Dead and Dead & Company
  • Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Actor, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Goodwill Ambassador
  • Pete Cashmore, Founder & CEO of Mashable
  • Connie Britton, Actor, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Goodwill Ambassador
  • Carmen Perez, Executive Director of The Gathering for Justice and Co-Chair of the Women’s March on Washington
  • Whoopi Goldberg, Actress, Comedian & Activist
  • David  Miliband, President & CEO, International Rescue Committee
  • Henry Timms, Executive Director of 92Y, Founder of #GivingTuesday
  • Muzoon Al-Mellehan, Student and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador

The Social Good Summit highlighted the work of many UN agencies, including WFP, UNDP, UNOCHA, the UN Youth Envoy, UNICEF, WHO and UNHCR. These agencies and UNDP Social Good Summit meetups around the world discussed Global Goals progress, innovative solutions, and the next steps to 2030.

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