Dar es Salaam. A new project was launched here today with the aim of influencing Tanzania’s non-governmental organisations to undergo digital adaptation that would help spur conversations and action around the ‘absolute digitization’ movement in the East African nation.
The Digital NGO Project, jointly undertaken by a local digital transformation advocacy Media Convergency and the multinational technology conglomerate Meta, seeks to support NGOs in their efforts to put technology at the centre of their activities and programs.
The project comes almost a year since Media Convergency published its An Overview of Digital Ecosystem, Emerging and Applied Technologies of NGOs in Tanzania report that revealed that only five per cent of the NGOs that operate at the national level in Tanzania have been entirely digitized.
The project, which targets 35 NGOs, focuses on four areas of concern: incubation; collaborative engagements with strategic key stakeholders; capacity building; and the sharing of resources.
“We will apply a designed six-month incubation program for 35 NGOs focusing on applied digital communication strategy, an audit of digital information communication flow and introduction and training to social media tools for integrating technology/digital solutions for projects,” CEO of Media Convergency Asha D. Abinallah said during the launching of the project at Serena Hotel in Dar es Salaam.
Ms Abinallah explained that many NGOs operate through strategies, with many of them knowing what they will be doing in the coming one or five years.
“And we [Media Convergency] feel that if [NGOs] get to know what technology is [available], how important it is and why it should be applied it’d be considered in those strategies, in meetings and whatever their plans,” she said.
Throughout its implementation period of twelve months, the project will involve training of a total of 1,000 individuals who will be drawn from the NGO sector and taken through extensive digital capacity building.
“We promise, and I don’t make it lightly, that we are going to be of service to the best of our capability and capacity,” Ms Abinallah said. “Together, we can take Tanzania to the right digital economy in its fourth industrial revolution and Media Convergency intends to be one of the players to make sure that it happens.”
Ms Vickness Mayao, the Registrar of NGOs said digital adaptation is very important in furthering NGOs’ activities, sounding disappointed with the fact that very few NGOs in Tanzania have fully adopted digitization in their operations.
“It is very important to have an organisational mindset that plans ahead and considers technology in all necessary ways,” Ms Mayao said in her keynote speech.
The director of information and communication technologies from the Ministry of Information, Communications and Information Technology Mr Mulembwa Munaku stressed the need for NGOs to work together in developing digital systems that would facilitate their works without costing them a lot of money.
Munaku said that many NGOs in Tanzania do not use ICTs strategically and the excuse has always been that ICT infrastructures are expensive to build at an organisational level.
“I personally don’t believe that,” he said during his presentation. “I don’t believe that. It is the issue of working collectively and seeing what can be done. One NGO can develop a digital HR or financial system and share it with others. We don’t have to incur some costs by developing systems that others are using and are working.”
Speaking about how he thinks the project is going to benefit NGOs like his, Kiiya Joel, the CEO of C-Sema, an organisation that promotes and protects children’s rights in Tanzania, said: “Everything we do [as NGOs] is digital. But how are we safe in using these digital networks and devices as companies, as NGOs? We have zero investment into the security of these devices.”