The United Nations Secretary-General has selected a high-level panel from across the world to raise awareness on digital cooperation and to advance proposals on ensuring an inclusive digital future.
Antonio Guterres selected the panel of 20 members jointly chaired by Melinda Gates of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Jack Ma, the Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group.
Three people from Africa were selected to join the panel and they all happen to be women. They include Nanjira Sambuli from Kenya, Akaliza Keza Ntwari from Rwanda and Bogolo Kenewendo from Botswana.
The three women will help advance proposals to strengthen cooperation in the digital space among Governments, the private sector, civil society, international organizations, technical and academic communities and other relevant stakeholders.
They are also expected to raise awareness about the transformative impact of digital technologies across society and the economy, and contribute to the broader public debate on how to ensure a safe and inclusive digital future for all, taking into account relevant human rights norms.
The Panel will hold two in-person meetings in September 2018 and January 2019, and will meet virtually as required. It will draw expertise from expert communities across the globe, as well as call for contributions from the general public through virtual hubs and online participation platforms. Two regional consultations will be organized in Asia and in Africa.
The Panel will complete its deliberations and submit its final report, including actionable recommendations, within a nine-month period. The report will map trends in digital technologies, identify gaps and opportunities, and outline proposals for strengthening international cooperation in the digital space.
But, who are these three African women?
Nanjira Sambuli is a researcher, policy analyst and advocacy strategist who is currently the Digital Equality Advocacy Manager at the World Wide Web Foundation.
She leads advocacy efforts to promote digital equality in access to and use of the Web, with a particular focus on the Foundation’s Women’s Rights Online work.
The former iHub Nairobi researcher is a member of DFID’s Digital Advisory Panel, board member at IRIN News, UK Citizens Online Democracy (mySociety) and Digitally Responsible Aid and served as a deputy on the United Nations High-Level Panel for Women’s Economic Empowerment (2016-17).
Akaliza Keza Ntwari is a tech entrepreneur and a founding member of Girls in ICT Rwanda – a group of female ICT entrepreneurs and professionals.
She has also founded two companies offering multimedia design and technology services. Akaliza has also volunteered her time with several organisations including kLab and Global Shapers.
After graduating with a Master’s degree from the Kobe Institute of Computing in Japan, Akaliza returned to Rwanda where she continues to offer her services as a multimedia consultant to clients around the world.
She was awarded the Outstanding Woman Entrepreneur in ICT Award in 2012 by the Ministry of Youth & ICT. In 2014, she was inducted into the Microsoft 4Afrika Advisory Board.
Bogolo J Kenewendo is the Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry. She currently serves in Cabinet as a Minister and in Parliament as a Specially Elected Member.
Honourable Kenewendo is the youngest member of both the current Cabinet and Parliament and is the youngest female Member of both institutions in the history of Botswana.
Her areas of expertise include Trade and Investment Policy, Macroeconomic policy, public debt management and regulatory & institutional frameworks for policy formulation. She holds an MSc in International Economics from the University of Sussex (UK) through the prestigious Chevening Scholarship.