Virtual Summit on Community Networks in Africa

By Internet Society and APC 03 September 2020

The COVID-19 outbreak has led to the work-from-home economy and highlighted the need for fast, reliable and affordable internet. While this has enabled the continuation of work, education, communication and commerce for a few, the reality is different across Africa, where millions of people do not have access to mobile broadband connectivity. Community-owned networks provide alternative, locally driven and sustainable solutions that are critical in addressing connectivity gaps in Africa. To explore these solutions, the 5th Virtual Summit on Community Networks in Africa is taking place starting 30 September 2020.

Promoting the growth of community networks in Africa

Community networks help connect underserved communities online with locally built and managed infrastructure. However, they are not always available, and they face a diversity of challenges. A 2017 Internet Society report identified 37 community networks initiatives in 12 African countries, at different levels of development.

To foster learning, networking, knowledge and experience sharing on this issue, community network operators in Africa started gathering in 2016 at an annual summit. This year’s summit will be held virtually and will consist of five webinars revolving around growing community networks in the continent.

These sessions, organised by the Internet Society and the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) in partnership with other organisations, aim to promote the creation and growth of community networks in Africa, along with increasing collaboration between community network operators and providing an opportunity for learning and engaging.

Five sessions on community networks in Africa

Session 1: The Path towards Growing Community Networks in Africa

Session 2: Community Engagement Strategies and Ownership for Growing Community Networks in Africa

Session 3: Policies and Regulatory Frameworks for Community Networks

Session 4: Sustainability Models for Community Networks

Session 5: Virtual Community Network Site Visit

Session 1: The Path towards Growing Community Networks in Africa

Date and time: 30 September, 12:00 to 13:30 (Universal Time/UTC)

Registration:

Please follow this link to register.

Description:

The first webinar in the Virtual Community Networks Summit: Africa series focuses on how to grow community networks in Africa as a means to connect the unconnected and underserved on the continent. The webinar will try to answer questions around how communities can build, manage and grow their own connectivity networks. Some basic questions that will be examined include:

  • How do we get more community networks in Africa?

  • What is the path towards building a community network in Africa?

  • What is a community network?

  • What is the process involved in establishing a community network?

  • What are the challenges faced in establishing a community network?

  • What does a community-owned community network model look like?

  • What are community networks in the continent doing differently?

  • How is a community network funded?

  • What are the capacity building and training opportunities needed?

  • What opportunities can be leveraged to make a community network sustainable?

  • Should community networks be deployed within a holistic and integrated context of other development activities for which community buy-in has been secured?

  • How can initiatives revitalise and transform a previous government-led project into another locally driven project?

Objectives:

  • Create awareness about community networks in Africa

  • Understand the path to starting a community network

  • Understand challenges and opportunities for growing community networks (at local, national and regional levels).

Who should attend?

  • Community network operators

  • Community networks champions

  • Researchers

  • Policy makers, regulators

  • Civil society organisations

  • Community radios

  • Sponsors, funders and members of the public interested in the topic.

Expected Outputs:

Clear guidelines on how to build, manage and grow a community network.

Moderator:

Barrack Otieno, Administrative Manager, Africa top Level Domains Organisation

Proposed Panelists:

  • John Dada, Fanstuam Foundation (community network) – Nigeria

  • Ditshego Kgopotso Magoro, Mamaila Community Network – South Africa

  • Chako Armant, La Difference (PamojaNET community network) – DRC

More about community networks

Community networks newsletter

APC’s community networks project: Connecting the Unconnected: Supporting community networks and other community-based connectivity initiatives

Summit on Community Networks in Africa

Bottom-up Connectivity Strategies: Community-led small-scale telecommunication infrastructure networks in the global South

Local Access Networks: Can the unconnected connect themselves?



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