Speeches Shim

Tuesday, February 18, 2020
Photo Credit: AFCHIX

AFCHIX is creating four women-led community networks (CNs) to bring internet services to their home communities where network connectivity was either non-existent or too cost-prohibitive to be accessible. These CNs in Kenya, Namibia, Morocco, and Senegal are run by women’s collectives that not only manage the technical aspects of the network, but work with regulators, create information and communications technology (ICT) training programs, and hope to eventually develop internet-based enterprises.

Over the last year, the local teams have worked to train CN leaders and establish key partnerships with regulators, equipment suppliers, schools, and local governments to build community buy-in and setup the physical infrastructure for the networks. As a result, three of the four CNs launched with the final site, Namibia, scheduled to go live next month. While network coverage ranges by country, current setups are reaching thousands of households within a half to one mile radius and are poised for scale. Through training, women CN leaders are obtaining technical skills and applying their newfound knowledge to maintain this internet infrastructure.

One female trainee shared:

“This was my first technical training. I used to believe that it was only men who had to know about technical things but now I am confident, and I would like to learn more. I have the courage to climb up the roof to support the installation of solar equipment or to help in troubleshooting.”

With women at the helm of bringing last-mile connectivity solutions to their communities, they are serving as role models, creating new social norms, and demonstrating how women’s tech empowerment can benefit all.