Virtual Summit on Community Networks in Africa

By Internet Society and APC

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 between September and December 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: For, with and by the community: 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 II: For, with and by the community: Community engagement strategies and ownership for growing community networks in Africa

Effective engagement of communities is critical for the success of community networks. When participation is secured, network deployment becomes easier. This makes community ownership a non-negotiable starting point for a viable community network. This session will explore and present community engagement strategies and ownership models for growing community networks in Africa. Experts will review and discuss different methods and experiences that have been used to achieve community ownership. Participants will also get to learn how to keep the community engaged and involved in an inclusive manner using good governance best practices. 


28 October, 12:00-13:30 UTC (click this link to register)

General objectives

This second webinar session aims to understand community engagement approaches and how to map the stakeholders and communications channels for an inclusive, people-centered, locally owned community network. 


  • 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.


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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