Technology remains an indispensable tool that is required to boost the efficiency of civil society organisations (CSOs). With the outbreak of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the role of technology in facilitating the activities of CSOs has been accelerated.
However, many civil society organisations (CSOs) across West Africa are faced with capacity challenges that do not permit them to effectively capitalise on the existence of technology as an indispensable tool to enhance their effectiveness and facilitate the delivery of their operations. Following a research conducted to understand the impact of the Coronavirus disease on the operations of CSOs in seven West African countries several CSOs highlighted the fact that they have greatly affected by the pandemic. This has been exacerbated by the fact that technology has been an indispensable tool that facilitates the work of CSOs during the pandemic. However, several organisations admitted that they have some capacity challenges that impede their effective use of technology. This manifests in either of two ways; weak soft skills to utilise existing technological tools that are in high demand during the pandemic, and insufficient technological equipment to effectively carry out their daily operations.
Hence, WACSI and TechSoup initiated the WACSI-TechSoup hardware donation support for nonprofit organisations from seven countries. The hardware donation initiative is a significant step in the process of supporting civil society organisations across West Africa to bridge existing technology gaps. The deficit in technology equipment, especially computers, is a major obstacle to the capacity of organisations’ in delivering their social impact mission, due to limited funds and conflicting budget priorities. The initiative, which took off on 5 March 2021 is part of WACSI’s effort in enabling some 40 organisations to offset operational costs to enable them to maintain communication, strengthen their operations, improve their responsiveness and boost their impact, amidst the Covid-19 pandemic and related challenges.
According to Mr Franck Sombo, Head, Monitoring and Evaluation Unit at WACSI, who oversees the TechSoup donation programme through which this initiative is being implemented, “the TechSoup technology donation programme is a much welcome programme that has helped to alleviate the burden from civil society in the region.’ Since the programme started in 2017, it has benefitted about 300 organisations and enrolled more than 1,000 in total’’.
This year, a total of 102 laptops will be donated to 40 organisations in the seven target countries.
CSOs in West African countries are encouraged to register with TechSoup, and the West Africa CSOs E-Directory to position themselves to benefit from more of such opportunities put at the disposal of CSOs in the region.