Many CSOs in West Africa do not have Internet-based and technology tools through which they can communicate their activities as front liners in the fight against COVID-19. Furthermore, in the context of the pandemic and the increasing risks of infringements on digital rights, the dearth of competent technologists in the civil society sector puts CSOs at higher risk of cybersecurity mishaps such as data breaches and identity theft. Also, CSOs have insufficient financial and logistical resources, such as technology infrastructure and Internet access, to acquire technological products and to support the use of applications including hardware, which in turn hinders their resilience amidst the pandemic.
Yet, information and communication technology (ICTs) and digital technologies could create enormous opportunities for West African CSOs to leverage on local resource mobilisation. This is especially true in a time where CSOs capacity to continue their programs is increasingly infringed upon, and where there is declining support from international donors.
It is in this context that WACSI has been supporting West African CSOs to move from a less technology-reliant to a predominantly technology-reliant approach during COVID-19. Since June 2017, WACSI has partnered with TechSoup, a US-based non-profit organization that provides technology services and support for non-profit organizations in over 236 countries and territories globally. WACSI and TechSoup have set up TechSoup West Africa, a technology donation programme to support non-profit organizations across the West African region.
The African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) is one of several organisations that benefited from the TechSoup West African technology donation programme. AWDF is the first feminist grant-making organisation on the continent that supports African women and organisations that are working for women’s rights.
Gertrude Bibi Annoh-Quarshie, Director of Operations at AWDF, strongly urges West African CSOs to integrate technology as part of their strategy to innovate and increase the efficiency of their programmes.
“Technology should be seen as part of our strategy and as an opportunity for us to innovate and catalyse how we do our work so that we are able to achieve our objectives in terms of impact,” she said.
She also encourages CSOs to integrate technology into their planning to make sure organisations put in practice their ideas.
“Planning is critical […] because it allows you to look at all the resources that you would need in terms of actually using technology to implement your activities,” she added.
As a final recommendation, Gertrude calls on CSOs to go beyond instinctive fears about the supposed complexity of technology and to be intentional in moving forward with technology-centred strategies.
“No organisation is going to get to the next level without an intentional investment in technology. Technology is here with us! We need to embrace it and take advantage of it, regardless of the size of the organisation. Everybody can benefit, in terms of achieving their overall objectives, from investment in technology”, she concluded.
Do you think technology is a useful and impactful tool West African CSOs should leverage on? Are you interested in benefiting from TechSoup products? If yes, please register on our platform at https://westafrica.techsoup.global/. Sign-up for the technology donation programme and receive up to 90-95% discount off technology products and services available in our online catalogue! For any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.