Digital NGO: Advocating for Digital Adoption and Digital Transformation for NGOs in Tanzania

I was privileged to represent Media Convergency’s team at one of the most important events for the Civil Society community, known as CSO Week. The event was done in the capital city Dodoma from the 23rd to 28th of October, very visible on Social Media through hashtags #CSOWeek2021 and #WikiYaAzaki2021

Media Convergency is an advocate for digital transformation and we have been doing so since the launch of the Digital NGO report in July 2021 titled “An overview of the Digital Ecosystem, Emerging and Applied Technologies of NGOs in Tanzania”. This year we have been fortunate to have a platform at the CSO week to showcase how imperative it is for the Civil Society Organisations and interested partners to fully understand the need for comprehending the digital state and readiness of their organisations, understand way forward and the need to apply strategies that will allow to realise and internalized digital ecosystem within their respective organisations.

A Clinic session at the CSO Week of the topic “Adopting Digitalisation for CSOs done by Media Convergency CEO on the 28th of October, 2021 and facilitated by Foundation for Civill Societies and TWAWEZA

Through the conducted study mentioned above, we have identified numerous technological digital gaps and provided recommendations and solutions to filling those gaps. Most importantly we have showcased the state of the digital ecosystem for CSOs, what and how they could to apply digital transformation effectively. Media Convergency has a digital system audit tool that assists in knowing the level of integration of an NGO.

Objectives of the session

  1. The overall objective is to influence mindset and foster conversations on absolute digitisation adjoining digitally-enabled technologies and digital transformation for the CSO community through a holistic approach so as to speed up the digital journey through informed decision-making that will enhance programs and project impact while observing value-for-money, operational efficiency and effectiveness. Others include;
  2. Provide an overview of the state of digital ecosystem for the CSO community in Tanzania.
  3. Explore and identify challenges and opportunities which comes with digital adaptation for CSOs.
  4. Share and provide the best way forward.
A panel discussion after the presentation with Asha D. Abinallah (Media Convergency CEO), Risha Chande (Director of Engagement and Advocacy at TWAWEZA) and Hon. Neema Lugangira (Member of Parliament and Executive Director at AgriThamani) and the Executive Director of TWAWEZA, Mr. Aidan Eyakuze as the Session Moderator

Target Audience

The target audience of the session is interested individuals attending the CSO Week but most importantly it’s the decision makers at the level of organisation, programs department, operations department and the communication department. Most of the technological solutions need applied requires better understanding by leaders and decision makers to as to apply and adapt at informed decision.

The audience at the CSO Week, listening to the “Adaptation of Digitisation for NGOs” session done by Media Convergency and facilitated by Foundation for Civill Societies and TWAWEZA

Highlights from TWAWEZA’s Director of Advocacy and Engagement on Digital Adaptation

The session through Risha Chande, gave insights to the way the organisation has adapted to digital integration and it has been so since they first decided to go paperless in 2017. The organisation uses “Sales Force” Digital solutions system and has engaged their service for their digital transformation journey to which have applied perfectly tailored technological solutions that best fits TWAWEZA’s needs. Operations and programs are transparent and there is more accountability. Most importantly, while many organisations were disrupted during the COVID19 pandemic, they were able to work because their systems have been set in a way a staff can work and access anything about from anywhere using technological solutions and applications.

Twaweza organisation works on enabling citizens to exercise agency and governments to be more open and responsive in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.

Highlights from hon. Neema Lugangira on AgriThamani’s embracing Digital Visibility

Speaking at capacity of the Executive Director of AgriThamani, a rural based NGO in Kagera, hon Lugangira explained how, with the current responsibilities on her role as the member of parliament, it would have been next to impossible to work and monitor progress of her NGO without the use of Technology. Technology has assisted in making her work with the team collaboratively no matter where she is. She further explained, it has also made Finance Management of the AgriThamani transparent, efficient and systematically updated in a way that they are ready for financial audit at any time and any day. She shared her success story having a visit from the BBC journalist from United Kingdom in Kagera on the work that AgriThamani does just from the updates of their work on their social media pages.

Frequently Asked Questions in Digital Adaptation for NGOs

Why a Digital NGO?

It’s more efficient, secure, effective, impactful and it is the future of all CSOs that want to go in pace with the global development of Digital Transformation. Technology is no longer an option. Continual improvement and progress are the only ways to thrive in the inevitable Digital Economy. Tanzania is Digitally ready. It has the capacity, competence, appetite and the right environment. The level of CSOs digital adaptation is dependent on the adoptive attitude of the decision makers on why, when and how they choose to apply digital solutions and services to their operations on programs.

How do you evaluate your NGOs digital adaptation competency?

Media Convergency can assist with a Digital System Audit. This Digital Integration tool aids to determine the entity’s level of competency. Media Convergency has identified and categorized digital adaptation competency into three levels of Digital Integration. The general long-term goal of Digital System Audits is to ensure that adequate, reliable and up to-date digital controls are in place for the integration, security and efficiency of information and operational procedures.

Levels of Digital Integration of an NGO as presented in the Digital NGO report mentioned above (the illustration is applicable across sectors)

How can you ensure that you can easily migrate and transition to a digitally fully-fledged NGO?

The first important change is the Mindset change, the rest easily flows according to Strategies put in place. There are other several factors, but among the important aspects for Digital adaptation and sustainability is policies or/and guidelines to shape and guide digital transformation to its full potential, doable and sustainable. See the key policies below: -

It is expensive to Digitally Adapt, what do we do?

It is not expensive if you plan accordingly, it is advised to plan ahead, by identifying the needs and digital gaps so that it is merged as part of the action plan (strategy) of the organization. Depending on the requirements, the organization can have a time plan on the best way it could fit in the identified gaps within reasonable time. The more it delays, the costly it could be in the future in terms of repercussions aside from the required direct costs.

Everything is operating and going on well. Why do we need to adapt?

If there is one thing COVID19 has taught us is the need of adaptation to Technology as fast as possible. This is not limited to the ability of holding meetings visually and sending emails, it embraces the whole forms of the organization ensuring that everything is in sync. More than ever there is a need for policies and guidelines that manage all aspects of software and hardware associated to the entire ecosystem of the organization. While you might be comfortable and believe that you are working very well without being a fully-fledged digital organization as times goes on, the organization is more liable to increase the digital gaps because the ecosystem is gradually evolving and moving forward. You don’t want to be left behind. The more you delay the more expensive it becomes.

A panel discussion after the presentation with Asha D. Abinallah (Media Convergency CEO), Risha Chande (Director of Engagement and Advocacy at TWAWEZA) and Hon. Neema Lugangira (Member of Parliament and Executive Director at AgriThamani)

I need to understand more on what it means on Digital Adaptation for NGOs

Media Convergency is there for you. We provide free first-time consultative meetings to all interested NGOs. You can send us an email to book for an appointment at info@mediaconvergency.co.tz. Media Convergency is a Multidisciplinary ICT cored Company that appraises Information and applies Technological Innovations and Applications that provide impactful Digital Solutions. We have four operative units and our services include Consultancies, Capacity Building, Digital System Audits, Management of Information and Data, Project Cycle Management and Promoting Impact Technology in Tanzania. We are able, willing and ready to carter for services to the NGOs and across sectors.

Conclusion

We are excited for the CSO week in which Media Convergency wishes to be part of change and solution for the CSO community especially towards its role in the Digital Economy of the nation. By fostering and Making ‘digital adaption’ as an agenda for the CSOs, it will be already a one step ahead that almost guarantees growth of the digital economy. While it might seem, there are no consequences of not immediately adapting digital — it’s important to understand that, it is indeed a vessel for more efficiency, value and impact.

Expert at the intersection of Internet on Information, Innovation, Technology & Governance in New Media | DW Certified Trainer | CEO at Media Convergency