November 2015, Issue 25
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Monthly Newsletter

Transform Africa panel on "Digital Inclusion for Women's Empowerment" (L-R): Crystal Rugege (CMU Rwanda), Alline Kabbatende (RwandaOnline), Dorothy K. Gordon (KACE), Geraldine Fraser Moleketi (AfDB), First Lady of Rwanda Jeannette Kagame, Hon. Rebecca Joshua Okwaci (Minister, South Sudan), Diana L. Ofwona (UN Women), Sonia Jorge (A4AI), Ingrid Brudvig (Web Foundation).

Accelerating Digital Innovation in Africa

In October, A4AI traveled to Kigali, Rwanda to join more than 2,500 participants from the government, private, and civil society sectors at Transform Africa 2015, themed “Accelerating Digital Innovation.”

Key sessions at the event included a discussion on how to build an Africa in which Internet for all is a reality. Participating in this session were representatives from GSMA, WEF, BRCK Inc, Ericsson, Facebook Africa, and TIGO. As moderator Kojo Boakye (A4AI Deputy Director) pointed out, today only 20% of Africans use the Internet. Yet, Internet access is one of the most transformative tools for economic and social development, creating opportunities for innovation in areas such as health, education, government accountability, and more. Panelists confronted current challenges and highlighted ways that multi-stakeholder partnerships can drive connectivity across the continent. 

WATCH THE SESSSION: Internet for All

On Tuesday, October 20, A4AI Executive Director Sonia Jorge moderated one of the summit’s most highly anticipated sessions: Digital Inclusion for Women’s Empowerment. Setting the stage for an inspiring dialogue, First Lady of Rwanda Jeannette Kagame opened the session with remarks on the gender digital divide, offering examples of international initiatives—such as the GEM-TECH awards organised by ITU and UN Women—and reforms in Rwanda aimed to ensure women benefit from the same opportunities as men. The First Lady then challenged participants to address the gender equality gap well before the 2030 target set for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Following the keynote address, Ingrid Brudvig presented key insights from the Web Foundation’s recently released report on Women’s Rights Online. Panelists—representatives from the South Sudan Ministry of Telecommunications, UN Women, AfDB, RwandaOnline, Kofi Annan Center of Excellence in ICT, and Carnegie Mellon University Rwanda—followed the presentation with a look at solutions towards full digital inclusion. Some of the proposed approaches include scholarship programs to expand women’s access to ICT training and affirmative action for women’s representation in government. 

WATCH THE SESSION: Digital Inclusion for Women's Empowerment

View more coverage of Transform Africa Summit 2015

In this issue:

Have new research, an upcoming event, or other exciting developments you'd like to highlight in the next newsletter? Email submissions to
Research Update

New Research on the Impact of Zero-rated Services

Amidst ongoing debate about zero-rated services, A4AI is undertaking research on the impact of these mobile data plans in developing countries. Over the next several months, we will investigate the availability and uses of services across eight countries—Bangladesh, Colombia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Peru, and Philippines—to answer key questions around impact:

  • What are the different types data packages available in the developing world?

  • How common is the zero-rating of specific bundles of services, and what alternative models are out there?

  • How are people using these zero-rated service bundles? What content is most popular? Does this differ from those who access the Internet in a different way?

  • Do people who use zero-rated services go on to pay for data and explore the whole Web beyond the “walled garden” they are provided for free? How does this compare to other methods of encouraging people to get online for the first time?
Membership Update

We are excited to announce the Web Foundation and the Communications Regulators’ Association of Southern Africa (CRASA) have signed an MOU to support A4AI’s work and mission. A4AI and CRASA will collaborate to support the development of harmonized regional policy and regulatory frameworks in Southern Africa and coordinate joint capacity-building opportunities to promote the affordability agenda in the region.

A4AI is also pleased to introduce the Digital Empowerment Initiative for Eastern Africa (DEIEA), an organisation working to find ICT solutions to address the digital divide in underserved and unreached communities in East Africa. DEIEA joins the Alliance as a civil society member.

Member Feature: World Pulse's Women Weave the Web

World Pulse, a global digital network of women leaders, is about to release a powerful set of recommendations crowdsourcing the wisdom of women worldwide to help transform the technology industry! The report, which will be released on November 17, strongly claims that all women must have equal access to digital tools, digital literacy, and the empowerment that can come from being globally connected online.

Learn more about the campaign: Women Weave the Web
All members are invited to attend our presentations, panels, and forums. If you are interested in scheduling a meeting with our team at any of the below events, please email
Online Training Opportunity
The GSMA’s Capacity Building programme has now launched its online training platform, allowing policymakers and regulators to learn at their own pace from anywhere in the world. The courses are free of charge, and each course requires a commitment of 2-4 hours per week. Drawing on real-world examples, the courses present policy and regulatory best practices from regions around the globe.

The first three courses to be launched are Mobile for Socio-Economic Development (MSED), Children & Mobile Technology (CMT), and Principles of Mobile Privacy (MP). The MSED and CMT courses will be offered starting Monday, 9th November 2015. The MP course will be offered starting Monday, 11th January 2016, and the MSED course will be run again on the same date. For more information, please visit or email

Upcoming Events

November 10-13

Internet Governance Forum 2015
João Pessoa, Brazil

*A4AI Research Manager Dhanaraj Thakur, Web Foundation CEO Anne Jellema, and Global Campaign Manager Renata Avila participating
**Are you attending IGF 2015? Let us know by filling out this form:

November 18

Global Business Forum, World Affairs Council
San Francisco, USA
*A4AI Executive Director Sonia Jorge speaking

November 23

São Paulo, Brazil
*A4AI Executive Director Sonia Jorge presenting keynote
**Cetic 20th anniversary and launch event of four annual research publications 

November 24

A4AI-Nigeria Coalition Meeting
Lagos, Nigeria
*hosted by A4AI, RSVP

November 26

A4AI-Ghana Coalition Meeting
Accra, Ghana
*hosted by A4AI, RSVP 

November 20 – December 2

WTIS 2015
Hiroshima, Japan
*A4AI Research Manager Dhanaraj Thakur attending

December 2–3

World Economic Forum: Future of the Internet Core Community Working G
New York, USA
*A4AI Executive Director Sonia Jorge attending

In the News

6 steps for creating a sustainable national or rural broadband plan.

With the release of the UN Broadband Commission’s 2015 State of Broadband report, Cisco’s Robert Pepper highlights a new digital divide emerging in connected devices.

Related: In which countries is the digital divide growing or shrinking? This interactive feature tells the story.

Villagers in India's most remote regions are using the Internet to build businesses and improve their livelihoods, thanks to Wireless for Communities—an initiative by The Internet Society and Digital Empowerment Foundation.

MTN and Ericsson bring managed rural coverage to Benin.

In Zambia, the Southern Africa Telecentre Network and partners announce a project that would enable rural communities to access educational and agricultural resources through the Internet.

Listen: Rugged Communications launches podcast on ICT4D with an inaugural episode featuring A4AI’s own Sonia Jorge.

Listen: Rugged Communications launches podcast on ICT4D with an inaugural episode featuring A4AI’s own Sonia Jorge.

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