CAPE TOWN, South Africa: Uganda may be the host for the next Community Internet Summit for Africa following the election of a Ugandan at the helm of the organization.
The continental member community internet organizations elected Tonny Okwonga, as its chairperson to serve for one year. He was elected during the second African Community Internet summit in Kenyan capital, in Nairobi.
Tonny Okwonga is the Partnerships and Development Manager (PDM) with Battery Operated System for Community Outreach, (BOSCO), Uganda, that is based in Gulu, some 350km north of Uganda’s capital Kampala.
Okwonga is also the Team Leader, of the Unicef, supported ICT4D Adolescent Refugees in West Nile region districts of Adjumani, Yumbe, and Arua.
He was elected for among others, his 12 years’ experience with BOSCO, Uganda, and due to his experience in development and Humanitarian work that is dedicated to promoting community initiatives and building bridges for humanity.
“Perhaps my efforts in transforming the lives of individuals in challenging life situations and environments around the world is beginning to pay off now,” he told the media in Kampala. Okwonga who has made several appearances as keynote speaker at several global events including the World Economic Forum, the ICT4D conference, Internet Governance Forum for Africa, among others said; “Now is the time for Uganda to host the Africa Internet Community Summit. As a chairperson, that is one of the focuses that I will spend many energies on to bring the summit next year.”
The objective of the summit is to promote the creation and growth of Community Networks, increase collaboration between community network operators in the region and to provide an opportunity for them to engage with other stakeholders.
Community established networks also referred to as “Community Networks” (CN) have existed for many years and, provide a sustainable solution to address the connectivity gaps that exist in urban, remote, and rural areas around the world. In Africa, where these gaps are more evident, a recent survey was able to identify 37 community networks initiatives in 12 African countries, of which 25 are considered active.
At the recent community Internet Summit held in Eastern Cape in South Africa, it emerged that BOSCO Uganda is among the most experienced among the 11 active organizations in Africa. It has a span of 12 years, yet the summit is as old as three years only.
Okwonga noted that as internet access continues to grow in Africa, with over 450 million people now connected to the Internet, more than 60 percent of the population still remains offline. “Community Networks are a key way to address this connectivity gap,” he said.
Community Networks are communications infrastructure built, managed and used by local communities.
The recent summit held in South African between 3-7 September 2018 was geared towards promoting the creation and growth of Community Networks, increase collaboration between community network operators in the region, and to provide an opportunity for them to engage with other stakeholders including content producers, regulators, and policymakers.
Participants from 13 countries in Africa (Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, DRC, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Namibia, Cameroon, Tanzania, Sudan, Egypt, and Ethiopia) attended the summit in addition to attendees representing Community Networks in Spain, Germany, Argentina, India and the United States.
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