APC communiqué: Employment and funding opportunities for strengthening community networks and local access

Publisher: APCNews     19 December 2018

Several positions have been announced simultaneously for individuals and organisations to be part of the new “Connecting the unconnected: Supporting community networks and other community-based connectivity initiatives” project. The Association for Progressive Communications is pleased to announce the positions for individuals and call for organisations to be part of a new project.

“Connecting the unconnected: Supporting community networks and other community-based connectivity initiatives” is a project by APC in partnership with Rhizomatica that aims to directly support the work of community networks, with the support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). The initiative intends to contribute to an enabling ecosystem for the emergence and growth of community-based connectivity initiatives in developing countries.

More information about the project can be found below (including the definition of community networks), along with an overview of the different opportunities for employment and funding available, so that if you have experience working with or in community networks, you can decide where you – as an individual, or your institution – should focus when applying:

Opportunities for individuals

There are three positions to join the APC team as part of this project. You can find more details in the respective job calls: 

  • Gender and women's engagement coordinator – more information here.

  • Movement building coordinator – more information here

  • Project administrative support – more information here.  

Another three positions – regional coordinators in Africa, Asia and Latin America – are also available, but candidates for these positions need to be nominated by a host institution that has a presence in the region. See below for more information. 

Opportunities for institutions
  • Regional coordination: The project will be primarily implemented through a peer community composed of community networks from three regions: Africa, Asia and Latin America. 

In each of the regions, the project will be guided by an established institution currently working in the community connectivity and digital rights space. The institution would put forward the name of an experienced candidate whose main role would be to coordinate activities related to this project, particularly those put forward by the peer community members in that region. You can read more about this opportunity in the respective calls.  

  • Africa regional coordinator – more information here.

  • Asia regional coordinator – more information here.

  • Latin America regional coordinator – more information here.

Please note that the organisational hosts of these three regional coordinators will not be eligible for the Peer Community Member Grants (see below). 

  • Peer Community Member Grants: Twelve community network organisations (four in Africa, four in Asia and four in Latin America) will be selected and granted funding towards activities that create and foster a peer learning community. Selection of grantees will be based on an evaluation of the submission received via a public call.  More information about the grants is available here

In addition, funds referred to as “Pathfinder Grants” are available for peer community members to cover strategic gaps that can affect community network sustainability. Some examples of strategic gaps include technological expertise, business planning and feasibility studies. The use of these funds and the total amount of the grant per peer community member will be decided collectively with the pathfinder coordinator, the gender coordinator and the respective regional coordinator. To be eligible for the Pathfinder Grants, peer community members will be asked to submit a proposal, describing their strategic gap and the way these funds will contribute to closing it. If agreed collectively, and sufficiently justified, it may be possible for the organisation acting as the host of a regional coordinator (as well as any other community network outside of the peer community) to be eligible to apply for Pathfinder Grants. Hence, institutions applying for the regional coordination position should not rely on this possibility.

  • CN APC Labs Technology Development Grants: Members of the peer community will have the opportunity to express specific technical needs which will be reviewed and discussed at the CN APC Labs inception meeting by those leading the development of software and hardware solutions for community networks and small-scale operators. The aim of this meeting, to be held in March 2019, will be to study the feasibility of the different technical solutions required by respective peer community members, prioritise them according to conceptual product design and capacity to implement within existing timelines and funding, and decide on the best strategy and partners for their development. The grants available from CN APC Labs will then be used to fund this technology development.  

Project details 

This project aims to contribute to an enabling ecosystem for the emergence and growth of community networks and other community-based connectivity initiatives in developing countries. It is part of a multi-year, multi-donor strategy envisaged to address the human capacity and sustainability challenges, along with the policy and regulatory obstacles, that limit the growth of community-based connectivity initiatives.

The project will focus on 12 locally managed community networks in Africa, Asia and Latin America (four per region) to strengthen their impact, reach and sustainability. This group of community networks will form the core of a peer community that can connect and broaden support for community-based connectivity initiatives, both nationally, regionally and internationally. 

The project will achieve its objectives through peer learning and exchange, awareness raising and capacity building for the development of scalable, innovative and sustainable networks, and contributing to the development of an enabling policy and regulatory environment.

The project will adopt human rights-based and gender equality approaches, with a special emphasis on women-led initiatives and integration of a gender perspective at all levels of project conceptualisation, planning and implementation. In addition, an ecosystem approach that integrates project participants’ involvement and ownership will be used to ensure sustainability beyond the life of the project.

This project builds on APC’s existing local access-related work currently being implemented with Sida’s core support, and the knowledge gained from the Local Access Networks research project implemented by APC and its partner Rhizomatica, with support from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), during the period August 2017-January 2019. 

The following people were working as part of the previous IDRC-funded project, and will continue working in the current Sida-funded project in the following roles:

  • Kathleen Diga: Project coordinator

  • Peter Bloom: Pathfinder coordinator

  • Mike Jensen: CN APC Labs coordinator

  • Carlos Rey-Moreno: Policy and regulation coordinator

  • Steve Song: Senior policy and regulation consultant

  • Nicola Bidwell: Gender and social impact advisor

  • Marilyn Bastedo: Intern 

  • Valeria Betancourt: APC Communications and Information Policy Programme manager

Definitions adopted for this Sida project

Community networks are structured to be open, free, and to respect network neutrality. Such networks rely on the active participation of local communities in the design, development, deployment, and management of shared infrastructure as a common resource, owned by the community, and operated in a democratic fashion. Community networks can be operationalised, wholly or partly, through individuals and local stakeholders, NGOs, private sector entities, and/or public administrations. [1]

Community networks are recognised by:

a) Collective ownership: The network infrastructure is managed as a common resource by the community where it is deployed.

b) Social management: The network infrastructure is technically operated by the community.

c) Open design: The network implementation and management details are public and accessible to everyone.

d) Open participation: Anyone is allowed to extend the network, as long as they abide by the principles and design of the network.

e) Promotion of peering and transit: Community networks should, whenever possible, be open to settlement-free peering agreements.

f) Promotion of the consideration of security and privacy concerns while designing and operating the network.

g) Promotion of the development and circulation of local content in local languages, thus stimulating community interactions community development.

Community-based connectivity initiatives are defined more broadly than community networks. They can include community-managed networks, but some initiatives may not meet all the narrow criteria of a community network. They can be initiatives or small operators in the early planning stages that are testing out the viability of a community running its own infrastructure. Some initiatives remain informal, as a collective with similar interests. Initiatives may have various stakeholders from universities, governments and/or civil society working with local communities to investigate their communication needs. Some initiatives may not have become established as a legal entity, as compared to a registered community-owned network. Over time and with appropriate experience, a new community-based connectivity initiative may have the intention to evolve and become a community network.

About APC

APC is a global network of civil society organisations whose mission is to empower and support organisations, social movements and individuals in and through the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to build strategic communities and initiatives for the purpose of making meaningful contributions to equitable human development, social justice, participatory political processes and environmental sustainability.

About Rhizomatica

Rhizomatica is a civil society organisation whose mission is to increase access to and participation in telecommunications by supporting communities to build and maintain self-governed and owned communication infrastructure. Rhizomatica's approach combines regulatory activism and reform, critical engagement with technology and the development of decentralised telecommunications infrastructure, and direct community involvement and participation.

[1] Based on the working definition of the Dynamic Coalition on Community Connectivity (DC3).



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