Emerging Technologies to promote Civic and Community Engagement for Social Impact: What needs to be done?

It is important for NGOs to have conversations on emerging technologies in order to promote civic and community engagement for social impact. By staying informed about the latest technological developments, NGOs can identify new opportunities to connect with and empower communities, as well as address pressing social challenges more effectively. Additionally, by engaging with emerging technologies, NGOs can also help to shape the development and deployment of these technologies in ways that are more inclusive, equitable, and socially responsible. To ensure that these conversations are productive and meaningful, NGOs should involve a diverse range of stakeholders, including community members, experts, and other organizations working in related fields. Furthermore, NGOs should also prioritize the development of digital skills and literacy within their organizations and the communities they serve. This will ensure that everyone has the ability to meaningfully participate in these conversations and take advantage of the opportunities that emerging technologies can provide. As part of the players of the agenda, Tech & Media Convergency (TMC) closely works in the space and within the Civil Society Space.

As part of the CSO Week 2022 (#CSOWeek2022) that took place at the Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC) in Arusha, Tanzania from 24th to – 28th October 2022, and as one of the steering committee members; Tech & Media Convergency (TMC) showcased and coordinated a session with a panel-based approach allowing the actors to discuss policies governing and the state of the landscape of the digital space. The session Using applied or emerging Technologies to promote Civic and Community Engagement for Social Impact: What needs to be done?”, is aimed at advocating the benefits of how the civic and community can embrace technology for social impacts.

The CSO Week is an annual event organized by a consortium of Tanzania-based local and international Tanzanian Civil Society Organizations that brings together the Government, CSOs, NGOs, Private Sectors, and other stakeholders to discuss various topics that impact the community at large. The gathering brought almost 500 people from different regions in Tanzania and other East African Countries including Kenya and Uganda, to learn, engage, interact network, and enhance partnerships in the interest of steering the national development agenda forward with the slogan “People’s Development, Peoples Stories”.

From the left, moderating the session is Desmond Mushi – Meta Public Policy East and Horn of Africa with panelists, in the same order is, Mercy Ndegwa – Meta’s Public Policy Director at East & Horn of Africa, Essa Mohamedali – the Tanzania AI Lab, Zuweinah Farah – the Smile Communications Tanzania Limited Country Manager, and SNDBX Founder; and Dr. Faustine Ndugulile – the Kigamboni Member of Parliament and ICT Advocate.

The conversation brought out several interesting aspects, one of them being how imperative it is for Civil Society Organizations and communities. Interested partners to fully understand the need to comprehend the digital technology state and readiness, understand the way forward, and the need to apply strategies that will allow them to realize and internalize digital technologies within the community and their respective organizations; a matter that was validated by Essa who shared during the session that, “organizations need to have the knowledge and reconciliation on leveraging technologies available at their disposal, to make sure that these technologies that are accessible to their target audience remain the priority while incorporating it into their operations”.

CSO WEEK - Tech & Media Convergency (TMC)
The speakers at the session with the theme “Using applied or emerging Technologies to promote Civic and Community Engagement for Social Impact: What needs to be done?

Among other constructive arguments, Ms. Zuweisha, shared, “I think inclusivity is paramount for all public and private sectors, the approach to transformative governance comes with various aspects: vision, innovation, technology, and one more, which is inclusivity; without addressing that, we are not moving anywhere”. This showcases how in this era of digital technology, the structure of the diffusion and application of technology can increase productivity and support innovation, in an unprecedented manner, with the potential to reshape the role of humans in production. Digital opportunities are the drivers of development and pillars of resilience for people by creating new business opportunities, new forms of employment, and facilitating public participation in welfare programs.

With better opportunities and risk management tools, places with better digital technology and individuals with better endowments are likely to have the first-mover advantage. Meanwhile, the drastic improvements in market access and potential productivity increase may benefit the less fortunate more in relative terms. They can learn from the first movers without an expensive trial-and-error but by directly adopting the new technology. It goes without saying the role of the government in effectiveness. This was emphasized by all speakers and more so by Ms. Mercy and Dr. Ndugulile.

Several participants from the audience during the session on the 24th of October, 2022 at the Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC) 

Dr. Ndugulile pointed out that, “The government of Tanzania is investing in setting the National ICT Broadband Backbone from the 12,300 kilometers we have to the planned 15000 kilometers. To augment the modification of the communication spectrum, we are in the trial of introducing the 5G technology in our country” while the former shared that, ” There are two things are essential for absolute Digital Transformation; ONE – proper infrastructures and TWO – the government framework”, she further added, “Companies like us (Meta) are investing enough in the projects like the 2Africa, a large communication cable landing connecting 23 points across Africa that will provide an easy connection to how people share data and information across the globe.

Further discussions from the panelists in video form are below:-

~ Listen to Ms. Mercy Ndegwa here and here

~ Listen to Dr. Faustine Ndugulile here and here

~ Listen to Ms. Zuweina Farah here and here

~ Listen to Essah Mohammed here and here

Several participants from the audience during the session on the 24th of October, 2022 at the Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC) 

As an add-on, you can listen to our CEO, Asha D. Abinallah explains why Tech & Media Convergency (TMC) is part of the CSO Week. Tech & Media Convergency (TMC) has been dedicated and made it a priority to be an advocate for Digital Transformation and Adaptation with for all entities and a special focus on NGOs through its Digital NGO program which is implemented in collaboration with Meta. These efforts have been the foundation for the overall goal of offering a crosscutting solution that will enhance Digital Transformation and adaptation for NGOs.