OGE's Community Connectors (young people trained in leadership and data collection) will record, chronicle, and disseminate information specific to unconnected communities. The Community Connectors will combine information technology with in-person data collection to connect these previously underserved communities to hyper-local, community-driven content and global best practices.
Eighteen Community Connectors will be equipped with an offline, portable version of the Beehive that can be displayed in rural communities without power or Internet access. Residents will initially be able to access global-, national-, and municipality-level content on topics such as education initiatives, health care, and micro-enterprise development. During the pilot, Community Connectors will map the resources available in three villages (e.g., names of midwives, hours of the local doctor, and the crops the community produces). This information will be integrated into a local Beehive for all residents to access. Residents of neighboring villages will also benefit as they will learn who to contact for specific services without having to venture to a distant city . Thus, the Community Connector connects specific communities to information technology and uses technology to connect communities to one another, ultimately reaching 5,000 people in rural Rwanda.
OGE will equip Community Connectors with tools to facilitate their outreach to targeted villages. They will carry locally applicable data entry tools (e.g., PDAs, Smartphones) with preloaded software to facilitate the entry and cataloging of the various community data. Finally, the Community Connectors will receive extensive training on leadership skills, community engagement, asset mapping, issue identification, consensus building, and data entry so they can act as technology ambassadors and train others.
There is very little debate, if any, regarding the benefits and value that information and communication technology (ICT) platforms provide. In sub-Saharan Africa, however, there is a tremendous dearth of ICT access, use, and delivery of easily understood, valuable, relevant content, especially at the rural, village level. With few exceptions, the Internet is used by fewer than 5% of most countries' populations. As a result, few Africans have access to the online resources related to poverty reduction, financial literacy, entrepreneurial opportunities, educational tools, improved health, increased civic engagement, governmental resources, and maintaining relations with friends and family. Hence, their opportunity to reap the benefits of this rich, global resource is limited.
Over the past two years, Cisco and One Global Economy have been working in five target countries - Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Cameroon, and Nigeria - to develop Community Knowledge Centers (CKCs). By engaging government entities and nonprofit organizations, One Global Economy and its partners have improved the efficiency of these centers, increased their reach into local communities, and provided rich, applicable, online content targeted at local residents. This is done through the Beehive, an online portal that provides local content, available in the local languages, and at a fifth-grade reading level that is not available anywhere else on the Internet.
However, these centers, which have primarily served urban residents, have not yet expanded into the rural communities of these countries, where less than 1% of villages have Internet connections. As a result, individuals who reside in rural communities (and who make up approximately 70% of all sub-Saharan African residents) have been prevented from taking advantage of the information and resources available on the Internet.
Sub-Saharan Africa ICT penetration and use is extremely low, lagging behind all other regions in the world. Even more dramatic is the fixed-broadband penetration rates for Africa, which stand at 0.2%. For example:
Cameroon - 3.0%
Ethiopia - 0.4%
Kenya - 8.0%
Nigeria - 6.8%; and
Rwanda - 2.1%.
Lessons learned from previous efforts have led to a new Commitment designed to deliver the power of information technology to the hardest-to-reach communities. This pilot will serve as a model which can be replicated and scaled to underserved communities throughout the world. Through increased Internet penetration and use, rural Africans will become more engaged in the course of the 21st Century and discover a wide-range of options available to them in order to improve their lives and communities.
One Global Economy seeks resources for programs to promote digital inclusion for civil society and entrepreneurship in Egypt. OGE also seeks funds to increase digital inclusion in Haiti with localized online content in French and Haitian Creole (to complement a matching grant from the Haitian Fund for Innovation at the Rockefeller Philanthropies). OGE seeks to implement digital literacy training programs for young people around the world. We are implementing a program to use basic mobile phones to deliver entrepreneurship information and financial literacy to street vendors in South Africa in a program funded by the Citi Foundation, and we seek to increase its impact and scale by adding additional countries and partners. We have also actively been seeking additional resources for digital inclusion programs in Angola, Brazil, Afghanistan, Malaysia, and Uganda. Since the Clinton Global Initiative commitment began, we have added programs in India, Israel, Lebanon, and Mexico, and we aim to increase our reach and impact in these countries and throughout the countries where we are in sub-Saharan Africa (Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, and South Africa) by increasing our work in digital inclusion.