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September 2016, Issue 32
FEATURED STORY
Africa Summit on Women and Girls in Technology, September 2016. (CC BY 4.0 Web Foundation)
#TechWomenAfrica Summit Calls for Gender-Responsive Policy to Achieve SDGs
Leaders representing nearly 30 countries gathered in Accra on September 13-14th for the inaugural Africa Summit on Women and Girls in Technology. The summit explored policy solutions to address the digital gender gap in Africa, with specific focus on four areas: affordable broadband, women's rights online, digital education and skills, and digital entrepreneurship. 

The summit also featured the launch of country report cards based on the Women's Rights Online Digital Gender Gap Audit. The report cards score progress in 10 countries—including six in Africa: Ghana, Egypt, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Uganda—on five areas where governments can take action to ensure women's online empowerment.
 

By the end of the two days, we translated participants' takeaways from the high-level discussions and stories shared into an action plan to take the movement forward. 

As an immediate next step, the team traveled to New York after the summit to take key messages from the #TechWomenAfrica community to the 71st session of the UN General Assembly:
  • Gender-responsive policy has clear targets, gender-disaggregated data and research, and budgetary allocation.
  • Design technology with, not for women—even better, let designs be by women.
  • Women’s economic and social rights cannot be divorced from their political and civil rights, online and offline.
  • Initiatives for women and girls must aim for scale to achieve the SDGs and have meaningful policy impact.
  • While tech and innovation and entrepreneurship matter, it’s not just about building an app; it’s about solving community problems.

Thank you to all participants and speakers for asking tough questions about policy’s role in equal access to technology; sharing personal stories and ongoing projects; and contributing your ideas for the action plan. We would also like to extend special thanks to our organizing partners and sponsors: African Development Bank, AITI-KACE, UN Women, Facebook, IREX, and SIDA.

Look out for updates on the action plan in the October issue of this newsletter. In the meantime, the conversation continues on #techwomenafrica—chime in!

Browse photos from the Day 1 and Day 2 of the summit.
COUNTRY ENGAGEMENT
A4AI-Myanmar coalition meets in Nay Pyi Taw, July 2016. (Photo: Karolle Rabarison)
Multi-stakeholder Collaboration Is Key to Affordable Access in Myanmar
A4AI recently collaborated with GSMA to deliver a capacity building workshop in conjunction with a meeting of the A4AI-Myanmar Coalition in Nay Pyi Taw. The much-anticipated gathering marked the first official meeting of the coalition since the National League for Democracy party assumed government leadership in April 2016.

More than 70 stakeholders participated in the events. Their feedback emphasized the importance of engaging across sectors, as well as the benefit of learning through case studies from other countries.

“A highlight is having multiple stakeholders sharing their perspectives on various topics,” said one workshop participant. “Open discussion can only lead to better innovation and policy environment."

“It was positive to have everyone participate. Common people like me have the opportunity to be heard by policymakers,” said another.

→ Read more on the A4AI blog
Meanwhile, Momentum Increases for Coalitions in Africa
A4AI-Ghana coalition meeting, July 2016. (Photo: Karolle Rabarison)
A4AI organized capacity building workshops on infrastructure sharing alongside coalition meetings in Mozambique, Nigeria, and Ghana. The workshops were led by Isabel Ornelas, Telecom Legal Expert at Vieira de Almeida.

Key updates from activities in Africa:
  • Ghana: The Consumer Awareness and Pricing Transparency Working Group influenced the implementation of data pricing transparency, whereby consumers now receive a USSD code informing them of the data they've used, cost, and balance—similar to how it's done for airtime. This development follows the release of the consumer survey results that were shared with the regulator, and which flagged the issue of pricing transparency as a challenge to access.

  • Liberia: A4AI finalized an agreement to provide technical assistance to the Liberian Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, specifically to support to review and refinement of the national broadband plan.

  • Mozambique: The latest infrastructure sharing workshop in Mozambique was a follow up to previous workshops and consultations as part of the coalition’s efforts to draft policy recommendations. A4AI subsequently submitted a draft to INCM, which was posted to the regulator’s website and open for public consultation. The regulator is now reviewing the proposed policies and regulations.

  • Nigeria: The Consumer Advocacy working group continues their efforts against the proposed 9% Communication Service Tax (CST). In addition to online outreach, A4AI-Nigeria has discussed its position on the proposed tax on the radio, television, and other media.

Materials from all workshops and meetings are available on each country coalition’s webpage—click over to Where We Work.
INTERNATIONAL ADVOCACY
#DataMustFall in South Africa
Affordability is in the spotlight in South Africa as the #DataMustFall campaign has gone from social media to Parliament. Started by radio DJ Tbo Touch, the campaign is calling for telecom providers to reduce the cost of data packages to enable everyone—especially low-income South Africans—to access opportunities in areas such as education and online skills training, financial assistance, and employment.

The parliamentary committee on telecommunications responded by holding public hearings to address the high cost of data in the country.

On September 21st, A4AI had the opportunity to testify at the second day of the hearings. Our contribution highlighted how, when accounting for income inequality, current costs leave out nearly half of South Africans for whom a basic mobile connection costs 6-19% of monthly incomes. We also emphasized the broader principles and practices that would expand access, echoing the demands of the #FASTAfrica campaign.

As a next step, the committee is preparing a report for the National Assembly, with recommendations to engage the full Parliament in the debate to address the cost to communicate.

To learn more on this topic:

MEMBERSHIP
Welcome to Youth for Technology Foundation
Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF) has joined the Alliance. YTF is an international nonprofit focused on using technology to transform the lives of marginalized youth and women. Since 2001, YTF has trained more than 1.6 million women, girls, and youth in digital literacy skills and its application in entrepreneurship and employment. Today, YTF programs are teaching girls to code, attain 3D printing skills, and use these skills to gain employment. YTF is also teaching 10,000+ women entrepreneurs to use 3D printing to add product offerings, business lines, and increase sales through online marketplaces.
 
Not an A4AI member? If your organisation is interested in joining the Alliance, head over to our website to review the requirements and submit an application.
TEAM UPDATE
Meet Erica Penfold
Erica Penfold is A4AI’s new Research Analyst. Erica comes to A4AI with more than 7 years of experience in research and journalism focused on open governance, poverty reduction, and access to health care in Southern and Francophone Africa.

Based in Johannesburg and Cape Town, Erica will contribute to all research outputs that are at the core of the Alliance’s policy advocacy efforts—including our signature Affordability Report—and coordinate various projects with our research partners throughout the year.

“I joined the team out of a love for research and a drive to be part of a bigger change in ICT and international development," she says. "What’s inspiring is the work requires constant thought and figuring out how research and advocacy for ICT can change people’s lives.”


Erica speaks French and is improving her Portuguese and Spanish. Say hello / bonjour / olá / hola on Twitter @EricaDaleP.
UPCOMING EVENTS
Sept 29-30 | OAS Conference
“Building Pathways for ICT in Education in the Caribbean”
St. George's, Grenada
* A4AI Research Manager Dhanaraj Thakur attending

Oct 4-6 | Future-Sat Africa Summit
Washington, DC
* A4AI attending

October 4-5 | UN ESCAP E-gov and Gender Expert Meeting
Bangkok, Thailand
* A4AI Research Manager Dhanaraj Thakur attending

Oct 5-6 | Global Connect Initiative Meetings
Washington, DC
• A4AI Executive Director Sonia Jorge participating
Oct 11-14 | AfICTA Summit on Internet of Things for Sustainable Development
Windhoek, Namibia
* A4AI Africa Regional Coordinator Onica Makwakwa presenting​

Oct 18-20 | Broadband World Forum
London, UK
* A4AI Executive Director Sonia Jorge presenting

Oct 21 | A4AI-Nigeria Coalition Meeting
Lagos, Nigeria
* Register here

Oct 25 | A4AI-Ghana Coalition Meeting
Accra, Ghana
* Join the coalition

Week of Nov 1st | A4AI-Mozambique Coalition Meeting
Maputo, Mozambique
* Date for the first week of November to be confirmed. Sign up for updates.
NOTEWORTHY
A4AI Chair Dr. Omobola Johnson delivered a keynote address to thousands of Tech+ conference attendees in Lagos, Nigeria. Read her full remarks on Africa’s future in a connected world.

Explore GSMA’s new Mobile Connectivity Index, measuring performance in 134 countries.

Beyond Access is working with Nigerian libraries to increase access for women and youth.

A message to UNGA: We need digital equality to deliver the SDGs.

“Advocates cannot successfully influence women’s participation in technology without influencing government policies.” Participant’s take-away from #TechWomenAfrica. 

From the archives, a great feature piece on MainOne CEO Funke Opeke—Nigeria’s “cyber revolutionary.”

How CIPESA is strengthening Africa’s conversation and actions on Internet freedom.

Nanjira Sambuli presented the Web Foundation’s commitment to the UN High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment.

Related: Cherie Blair Foundation uses technology—specifically, online mentorship opportunities—to empower women entrepreneurs.
Thank you for reading! As always, we welcome your feedback and suggestions. A4AI members that would like their updates featured in the newsletter may send their inputs to karolle.rabarison@webfoundation.org.
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About A4AI

The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) is a global coalition of public sector, private sector, and civil society organisations working to advance the shared mission of affordable access to mobile and fixed-line Internet for all.
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