Southern Africa’s ICT capacity crisis addressed


To address the current Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) capacity crisis most development organisations are facing, Ungana-Afrika, with three-year funding from international donors OSISA and Hivos, will be expanding and strengthening the network of development sector oriented ICT consultants, eRiders, across the Southern African region.

The aim is to initiate sustainable projects that will provide ICT capacity building and support to development organisations in the region. This will help them to fulfill their potential to build a better and sustainable society by helping them to integrate ICTs as a strategic, mission focused, tool.

Non-profit and other development organisations in Southern Africa are continuously facing the challenge of main-steaming ICTs into their operations. “Capacity crisis’ is a mild expression when assessing the skills and understanding of ICTs across the sector. At the current pace of development, these organisations are missing the opportunities that ICTs can provide them in achieving their missions more effectively and enabling them to provide improved services to the communities they serve.

Ungana-Afrika, a regional ICT for development organisation established in 2003, is addressing this challenge and extending this incubation programme to the whole SADC region during the next three years.

Tshepo Thlaku, Programme Manager, enthusiastically explains recent developments, “In February this year a regional strategic planning workshop, attended by a network of existing and potential ICT capacity building organisations and donors supporting the programme, was held to develop a three year Regional eRiding Network Strategy. This was the first meeting of its kind in the region after our tireless efforts during the last years during which we developed and tested our incubation services in practice.

A shared vision for the network as well as a number of objectives and action points were agreed. The success of this programme is our current highest priority.”

Mr Thlaku continues, “eRiders are multi-disciplined technology consultants that work on-the-ground with a community or sector of non-profit organisations to help them to effectively integrate ICTs into their strategy, and empower them to better achieve their missions. What makes this approach so special are the values and the commitment to social development eRiders share as well as a great global eRider community as a resource, with the portal as an example.”

The programme will be based on the expertise Ungana-Afrika has built by helping other development organisations to understand and implement eRiding as a new model to address cross-cutting ICT needs of non-profits in their own countries.

This expertise comes from a roll-out of workshops, training and consultancy in South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, and Senegal. In addition to projects that have been initiated in West Africa, two Southern African partners in Zambia (NGOCC eRiders) and Mozambique (FDC) have started implementing their own projects. “As a new component we have included a social entrepreneurship approach and the sustainability of the initiatives will be our key focus. We are also adding a sub-granting process which will enable local groups to do careful preparations before any implementation will start.”, says Mr Thlaku.

During the next three years Ungana-Afrika will be expanding its services into several new countries. This year two new in-country partners Ekowisa (Zimbabwe) and LCMC (Swaziland) will receive support to investigate the feasibility of the approach. Other new countries at a later stage will include Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Angola and DRC. In these countries Ungana-Afrika will first conduct incubation workshops that are aimed at introducing eRiding to non-profits, SMEs, education institutions and government. In each country a local partner will then be identified and sub-contracted to design an eRiding initiative that is feasible for the local environment. Interested in-country parties are encouraged to contact Ungana-Afrika.

For the current partners, NGOCC eRiders in Zambia, and FDC in Mozambique, the programme offers project funding, and implementation and evaluation support to help them provide higher quality services to their non-profit clients.

Finally, as a cross cutting service, useful to all local ICT service providers including eRiders, Ungana-Afrika has planned to develop a FLOSS (Free Libre and Open Source Software) for capacity builders information portal that will include articles such as how FLOSS services can be profitable and how to plan and manage successful FLOSS support services. The aim of this portal is to lower the barrier to set-up low cost ICT support in economically challenged regions.

For more information visit or contact Tshepo Thlaku at +27 12 809 0531 or at


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