The Digital Impact Alliance’s (DIAL) Insights and Impact team is excited to host two fellows this summer: Maurice Sayinzoga and Mitch Hulse. DIAL’s Insights and Impact team focuses on research, “how to” knowledge and advocacy that advances the digital development ecosystem. Though Maurice and Mitch will only be here for a few months, both bring valuable, diverse experience to the team. Take a few minutes to get to know them, and be sure to follow @DIAL_community to keep tabs on their work with the Insights and Impact team this summer.
DIAL: Tell us about yourselves guys!
Maurice Sayinzoga: I currently live in Washington D.C. but am originally from Rwanda, a.k.a. the “Land of a Thousand Hills.” I came to DIAL after completing my Master’s degree in Global Human Development from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. Before I went to grad school, I worked in Rwanda with the Education Development Center on a youth livelihoods development project. I became interested in information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D) work when I took my first full-time job with the Boston-based non-profit Partners in Health (PIH). While at PIH, I led the implementation of the Pharmacy Electronic Medical Record (EMR) in rural health facilities in Rwanda. Since then, I have worked for various projects in Rwanda, Malawi, and Washington, D.C.
Mitch Hulse: After growing up in Singapore, I completed my undergraduate degree in International Affairs at the University of Colorado at Boulder. In 2015, I moved to D.C. and interned with the U.S. Trade Representative under the Obama administration before moving back west to complete a Master’s of Public Policy at the University of British Columbia. During my two-year program at UBC, I focused on research and case-work around ICT4D policy, harnessing data for development (D4D), and empowering communities through access and connectivity.
DIAL: What will you be focusing on during your time at DIAL?
MS: I will be focusing on writing case studies and showcasing the Principles of Digital Development through on the ground life examples. The Principles are nine “living” guidelines stewarded by DIAL that help development practitioners integrate established best practices into technology-enabled programs. I will also be conducting research around internet access and use, which is part of Sustainable Development Goal 9.
MH: I will be researching data privacy and focusing on how the ICT community can leverage data responsibly and sustainably with both private and public partners. I will also be doing a deep-dive into how ICT solutions can enhance transportation and health solutions in dense urban environments.
DIAL: Why did you want to work with DIAL?
MS: I share DIAL’s mission “to promote a more inclusive digital society.” Having worked in the field and seen the need for better digital deployments, DIAL offered me an opportunity to contribute to work that addresses digital divides at the institutional and eco-system level.
MH: DIAL is in a unique position to leverage private-sector enterprises and foster real collaboration with the international nonprofit community. The digital divide that developing communities often face is also an immense opportunity for the global community to come together, and DIAL is at the forefront of this reality. DIAL’s attention toward finding novel solutions and catalyzing innovation falls in line with my passion for understanding what sustainable ICT4D policy looks like and how best it can be implemented.
DIAL: What does a digitally inclusive society mean to you?
MS: For me, it means a society without disparities within and between countries. An inclusive digital society also means less socio-economic inequalities. Income and education, for example, are strong determinants of whether someone uses the internet or not. Hence, bridging the digital divide is an essential component to the broader development agenda.
MH: Today, an estimated three billion people have internet access. By 2020, more than four billion people will be connected to the internet—a majority of this growth will happen in low and middle-income countries. The global development community must ensure that these communities have the resources and resilience to not only participate in new digital landscapes, but ultimately are empowered to enhance their own livelihoods through new technologies.
DIAL: Last one – where is your favorite place that you have traveled?
MS: Montreal, Canada – I attended summer music festivals and biked to Mount Royal.
MH: In the mid 2000’s, I trekked Milford Sound in New Zealand. Even though it was a grueling trip through what at times seemed like the end of the world, it was all worth it; I legitimately thought that I was walking through Middle Earth in The Lord of the Rings.