How NGOs, can embrace and leverage on the power of 5G Technology

Vodacom has launched 5G technology in Tanzania. It is indeed (#YaKwanzaTanzania) the hashtag meaning “the first in Tanzania” to deploy and launch 5G Technology. 5G is a software defined network highly and largely operational on the cloud as opposed to fibre and cable. 5G is the latest generation of cellular technology, promises faster speeds, lower latency and greater capacity for multiple devices than its 4G predecessor. It was first launched in the continent in South Africa in May 2020 where other countries of Botswana, Egypt, Gabon, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritius, Nigeria, Senegal, Seychelles, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe followed suite. Uganda was the first in East Africa followed by Kenya and now Tanzania. This event was graced by the Minister of Information, Communication & ICT of Government of Tanzania — Mr. Nape Moses Nnauye as the guest of honour. The minister expressed excitement for just three months ago, in the house of parliament, he had promised the Tanzanians that there was going to be an advent of the 5G Technology in the country.

Ms. Asha D. Abinallah sharing her insights on the role of NGOs at embracing the 5G technology at the Vodacom launch, September 1st 2022 at Mlimani City where the event was held

I was privileged to be part of History in the making. I had actively participated at the day and place where history was being made in Technological Advancement of connectivity by Vodacom Tanzania. I was among the four panellists that were invited at the launch event to share my perspectives on what the 5G technology will mean to non-government organisations (NGOs) especially in the line of how they can embrace and leverage on the power of this inevitable technology. My insights drew context from our Digital NGO project that is implemented by Media Convergency in partnership with Meta (then Facebook) with one of the program running an incubation for 35 NGOs aimed at accelerating Digital Transformation and Adaptation for NGOs.

At the Vodacom launch of the 5G technology. From the left is the facilitator of the panel Cleopatra Mukangara — Head of IT Strategy and Software Vodacom Tanzania, Mr. Andrew Lupembe — Networks Director Vodacom Tanzania, Ms. Asha D. Abinallah — Founder and CEO Media Convergency, Mr. Petri Moilanen — VP Director of Sales Mobile Networks MEA and Mr. Jumanne Mtambalike — Founder and CEO Sahara Ventures

Media Convergency has been working with NGOs for almost two years working towards understanding the community to which a study was conducted on “An Overview of the Digital Ecosystem, Emerging and Applied Technologies of NGOs in Tanzania”. This is one of Media Convergency’s project aimed at playing a central role at the heart of Digital Transformation. This project is a platform for learnings, piloting, studying and being part of change. It comes with rich information that cannot be found anywhere at local country context. Among the observations of how the NGOs can embrace the 5G technology, the below are some of the approaches:-

Deploying the Technology within and across the ecosystem at a fully-fledged level

5G technologies has been in conversation for quite some time now. Vodacom is now providing an asset of reliable, secure, global internet connectivity. Fast tracking effective application and benefits from the 5G technology from top to bottom so as to leave no one behind will require NGOs capitalizing on it for triple down effects to enable technology for humanity in real sense. NGOs as the key drivers of development always representing the citizens for what is best for them, they are required to play and integral role in technology as well. And it can only succeed if they have deployed it in their everyday work to be able to grasp the best way to amplify it to those whom they stand for.

Taking lead in the Conversations centred around the 5G Technology

We are talking about Technology for Humanity. That in itself calls upon the NGO community to not only be part of the conversations, but to champion and consistently foster constructive conversations on and about the 5G Technology. The NGOs are custodians for what benefits the people and how best they can benefit to that which is critical and important for the people. And thus for the future of a reliable Digital Tanzania, if we are not to leave anyone behind, 5G is not an option, it is a necessity. The critical role of these conversations is to make sure people have the right information, and have access to the technology. There actors who foster these conversations, such as Vodacom today, but the NGOs are in a better position because they hold most of the leverage of social impact for the people.

Accelerating focus and applying an enterprise approach at embracing the new Technologies

I admit that, there is a lot of work to do. And it can only be possible if and when the NGOs fully embrace emerging and applied technologies at a 360 degree level. In the sector — Tanzania compared to our neighbouring countries, is way behind at embracing new technologies and anything associated with it unless it necessary such as virtual calls. As we speak the government is doing relatively well in embracing and adapting to Digital compared to the NGO community. NGOs need to leverage on the best way it could embrace their dominant position. This will inevitably lead to understanding, amplification and being the leading sector with intentional goals of being part of the necessary changes which the Fourth Industrial revolution requires. And this is only possible if NGOs accelerate focus at embracing these technologies such as 5G.

Investing in Capacity of understanding new technologies such as 5G

Expected Challenges at embracing the 5G Technology

There are several challenges. We learned of this challenge through our study mentioned below that we launched in July 2021 titled, “An overview of the digital ecosystem, emerging and applied technologies on NGOs in Tanzania”. Some of the challenges (while the discussion of focusing on 5G Technology, it applies to Technology in general) are below:-

Some of the roles of an individual at accelerating or decelerating the 5G technology

Debunking on misleading information around the 5G technology

Drawing from the context of the other countries which started off on this conversation. There was a lot of negative information and news in lines of the technology. It is very important for the those with privilege of knowledge, access to information and digital citizenship exposure to be at the forefront of debunking information understanding intent whether its Misinformation, Disinformation and Malformation.

To those in the Innovation and Technology Space

We will be seeing an enhanced capacity of the internet which has the transformative potential and power to provide a wide rage of benefits combined with technologies such as the Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Virtual realities and Smart everything (from smart phones to cities).

A great opportunity for Content Creators

We need a lot of information about 5G technology on the Internet and especially in Swahili language so that the Tanzanians who really are not affluent in English (which carries most of the content), could also learn and understand what it means, and how they can benefit from it. We have brilliant content producers but a very few leveraging on content creation around technology.

Vodacom Introducing the Founder and CEO of Media Convergency, Ms. Asha D. Abinallah as on of the Panelists at the launch of the 5G Technology that was deployed September 1st, 2022 at Mlimani City

Conclusion

As a nation. We need to be keen and careful. We are all fully responsible for making things WORK. I am personally really happy today for Vodacom introducing the 5G technology and making Tanzania among the top 15 countries of the 54 nations in Africa to adapt to this technology. Technology is very fast, we need to be fast in attaining our goals and solutions of our nation kwa ajili ya maendeleo ya Taifa.

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Asha D. Abinallah

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