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Community networks have existed for many years. They provide a sustainable solution to address connectivity gaps in urban and rural areas around the world. In Africa, where these gaps are more evident, a recent survey was able to identify 37 community network initiatives in 12 African countries. To promote the creation and growth of these networks, the Third Summit on Community Networks in Africa will take place on 2-7 September 2018 in Eastern Cape, South Africa.
The summit, which also aims to increase collaboration between community network operators in the region and provide opportunities for engagement with other stakeholders, shows that "there is a sustained and growing interest in this area," APC's community access networks project coordinator Carlos Rey-Moreno says. "It's great to see this happening, especially for community network practitioners in the region, who will have the chance to keep meeting, sharing experiences and learning from each other."
According to Rey-Moreno, "This year's venue is particularly interesting for the rural areas of South Africa where our member Zenzeleni Networks operates. A huge thanks to the Internet Society not only for continuing to support this event, but also taking on the extra work that entails organising an event in such a remote place."
The Internet Society has also created a fellowship programme that provides an opportunity for qualified applicants to attend the summit in person. The aim of the fellowship is to promote the establishment of community networks in Africa; share experiences on ways to improve the running and administration of new or existing networks; create public awareness and "evangelism" at the national and regional level; advance and influence national and regional policies and regulations; provide a face-to-face networking opportunity; and promote gender balance in community network development.
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