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The coronavirus pandemic accelerated the adoption of digital technologies across all sectors. Unfortunately, unconnected communities are at a disadvantage, as essential services and information, including much-needed health information on vaccines, are now delivered using digital technologies. Community networks are working to close this gap through holistic digital inclusion. As the movement grows in Africa, there is a need for tools and resources to support both new and existing networks to become sustainable and scalable.

The first session of the Virtual Summit on Community Networks in Africa season 2021/2022 will take place on 28 July at 12:00 UTC, and aims to present essential tools and resources that community networks can use in navigating the different stages and processes needed in setting up and operating a sustainable community network.

The Internet Society and the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) will share some tools, regulatory and policy updates happening in the space. The session will give participants an opportunity to share some challenges and recommend tools that may be needed to address those gaps.

Find out more and register to join us for the upcoming session of the Virtual Summit on Community Networks in Africa on 28 July at 12:00 UTC. 

Moderator and panellists
  • Lillian Achom (AccessPlus)

  • Carlos Rey-Moreno (APC)

  • Steve Song (Mozilla Corporation)

  • Verengai Mabika (Internet Society)

  • Sol Luca de Tena (Zenzeleni Community Networks)

More about the Summit

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 network 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. While the first editions of the Summit on Community Networks in Africa were held as face-to-face events, in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic made this impossible and led to a shift to a virtual summit comprising a series of webinars that took place over the course of several months in 2020 and 2021. 

The webinar series planned for the Virtual Summit on Community Networks in Africa season 2021/2022 is being organised by the Internet Society and APC in partnership with other organisations working to build and strengthen community networks in Africa. This first session in the series was also made possible by the support of Mozilla, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and the UK Aid Digital Access Programme. 

Previous season

The 2020/2021 season of the Virtual Summit on Community Networks in Africa consisted of five webinars revolving around growing community networks in the continent, focusing on the following themes:

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: Public funding for community networks

Session 4: Discussion on sustainable models

Session 5: Inside an African community network