Civic Tech Innovation Forum & Jamfest 2022: Unplugged (but still connecting)

#unplugged22 presented by CTIN & Jamlab Africa

CTIF22: #Unplugged22

The 2022 edition of the Civic Tech Innovation Forum took place on online and in-person between the 3rd and 27th October 2022. Joined by attendees from across the African continent and beyond, the conference was a truly pan-African gathering of practioners and enthusiasts. CTIN partnered with Jamlab Africa once again and we were able to gather madia innovation and civic tech innovation communities for this foremost gathering of innovators in these respective spaces.

#unplugged22 presented by CTIN & Jamlab Africa

About CTIF22: Unplugged (but still connecting)

As we are getting used to COVID-19 as endemic, much can be said about the effects it has had on our sense of community. We have connected virtually with the rest of the world for over two years and have been online more than any other time in our history. Some may argue that during this time we have been overly connected. So overly connected in the fact that even when we do share physical spaces, we are never really there, preferring rather to be glued to our screens and seldom to connect to those around us. And there is a question of whether our online connections are really translating to offline action.

In 2022, we go unplugged but still remain connected. We attempt to have real conversations about the effects of digitalisation on our shared experiences. We will use the good old power of storytelling to share our truths about the journey of digital transformation and how it should factor into our individual and collective being and doing going forward. 

Our idea of unplugging is both literal and intuitive. We are unplugging from our laptops to show up in person as we host our first live event in over 2 years. And as we venture into unfamiliar territory, we will also be coming together to unplug from only individual work and unidirectional mass media to gathering intimately to reconnect, to learn, laugh and share our experiences in person. 
CTIF22 Unplugged will bring real, clear and stripped-down conversations about the opportunities and effects of digitalisation from life as we know it, and for life as we want it.

CTIF22 Exhibitions and World Cafe

The exhibition hangout is a conversation among peers, who are innovators, developers in the civic tech space on the continent. Each ‘hangout’ will focus on a particular theme most aligned with the work being done by these initiatives. The ‘hangouts’ are a relaxed space for exhibitors to share and learn from each other’s experiences, and offer a pathway for other innovators and aspiring innovators in the room.

Dear South Africa
Open Institute
ThisAbility
YoMobi
OpenUp
Open Cities Lab

TransparencIT
BlackBox
Comrade Nigeria
HSS
Africa Data Hub
SafeBangle

Virtual Sessions

Monday, 17 October 2022

Opening Plenary: The rise of the civic in African governance

 Building on previous discussions, successes and lessons from the last five CTIF conferences, this year, CTIF22’s #Unplugged (but still connecting) opening plenary will focus on the intersection of African governance, public [service] delivery and civic tech. The session will investigate roles of civic actors in societal governance and delivery, including how emerging technologies are enabling these new or expanded roles. We will engage with ideas and experiences for what civic tech has to offer in taking Africa forward (opportunities), but also what risks, obstacles and challenges there may be.

Daily Deep Dive 1: Presenting AUCTF’s civic tech initiatives

In these deep dives sessions, three civic tech initiatives funded by the African Union Civic Tech Fund (AUCTF) will present and share their new innovations focused on justice, gender and governance issues such as citizens’ participation, service delivery, accountability, transparency, inclusion and access. The innovators are particularly invited to highlight how their innovations could enable and facilitate transformative action in their countries and across the African continent. 

People or impact? No need for a Hobson’s choice in civic tech design methodology

 OpenUp has been at the forefront of South African civic tech for almost a decade. Human-centred design (HCD) has been central to both our practice, and philosophy. Like all good ideas, our understanding of HCD has morphed. This is partly in response to problematic hypothecs we have identified (often rooted in the individualistic and commercial context from which user-centred design arises from).

Minimal Viable Products in the Civic Tech arena: How to build and test in public.

Open Cities Lab (OCL) is a non-profit organisation that creates tools and interventions that strengthen capacity within government, empower citizens and improve trust and accountability in the civic space. OCL often partners with Black Box (BB) a product design and development company that specializes in digital solutions that solve complex real-world challenges. 
Both organisations are often creating tools that require a quick turnaround time to be of any value. Often this means not being able to follow every step in the standard process of a project, however, it allows for a minimum viable product (MVP) to be produced.

Financial Sustainability Lessons from Latin American civic tech organizations

For Civic Tech practitioners, sustainability is particularly challenging. This is why La Sobremesa will  present an overview of a fundraising plan, and share recommendations around how to create one, based on the experience of Latinamerican civic tech organizations that have gone through the same process. A fundraising plan is a key tool to ensure an organizational survival over time. It allows a team to identify the axes that need to be worked on, as well as its strengths in which to rely. It establishes a work plan considering its ecosystem, value-add, and the lines of actions more suitable to its mission.

Hacking for Mitigation

This workshop provided a live demonstration of hacking threats such as ransomware, spyware and phishing that people face on a daily basis within an online setting. In our current reality, Dr Gameli reminded us that due to the dominance of technology and access to the internet, most of our lives and our work are conducted online. He emphasised the importance of being safe and vigilant in this day and age where digital threats are imminent and omnipresent. The workshop took attendees through a presentation of the methods and means that hackers and scammers employ when targeting potential victims.

Tuesday, 18 October 2022

Open-Source Tools for Civic Tech with Code for Africa

This session offers an overview of the development of civic technology open-source tools for solving problems in Africa. It will showcase African open-source tools created by civic tech organisations, identify problems that tools are solving and highlight open-source software that was used to build tools.

“North-South-East-West” – Civic Tech innovators roundtable

This roundtable is a space for the African civic tech innovators to explore the current civic tech space and share new directions for the future. Given the changing funding landscape, civic innovators must consider the implications and the future of the ecosystem. This session invites regional perspectives on the future of African civic tech, it is an opportunity for the community to advocate for the community, to share and explore key trends, challenges and opportunities.


Daily Deep Dive 2: Presenting AUCTF’s civic tech initiatives

In these deep dives sessions, three civic tech initiatives funded by the African Union Civic Tech Fund (AUCTF) will present and share their new innovations focused on justice, gender and governance issues such as citizens’ participation, service delivery, accountability, transparency, inclusion and access. The innovators are particularly invited to highlight how their innovations could enable and facilitate transformative action in their countries and across the African continent. 

The Funding & Support Environment for African Information Ecosystems Roundtable

The objective of the Funders Roundtable session was to share new directions and priorities in the funding environment and implications for the civic tech field and information ecosystems for social innovation in Africa. A number of Foundations that have been active funders of digital innovation have updated their Africa strategies with some level of focus on healthy information ecosystems and leveraging digital innovations for public good which will relate to the CTIN community. These may reflect varying views and perspectives about civic tech and the role of the civic tech community in advancing democratic participation and in addressing some of the civic space challenges that Africa is grappling with today.

Wednesday, 19 October 2022

Let’s talk data: Lessons learnt building civic tech solutions

In this session, Magamba Network will be sharing their journey and the various challenges and valuable lessons they have learnt along the way. Magamba Network was founded to advocate for the youth of Zimbabwe using new media and technology. That focus led to building civic tech solutions that informed, organized and spoke truth to power. The intersection of advocacy and technology has led to Harvey Binamu and Munya Blogo of Magamba Network having to make interesting and exciting technology design choices. They have come up with creative civic tech solutions for various issues that require informed decision-making, from creating a WhatsApp bot so that you could find out who your candidates were in the Zimbabwe elections to building a COVID-19 tracker during the pandemic.

Working with Cities: The unfolding role of civic tech-meets-gov in urban development

African cities face entrenched complex challenges including unemployment, widespread poverty, inequality, the digital divide and climate change among others. Today’s policy environment in African cities is currently not aligned with emerging technologies and the rate and speed of innovation. Presently, bureaucratic local government systems and processes act as a barrier to innovative approaches to service delivery. Yet there are champions of innovation in government as well as civil society working towards tangible changes in communities. Levels of collaboration between civic tech actors and local government departments are, although limited, are emerging and evolving.

Daily Civic Tech Deep Dive 3: Presenting AUCTF’s civic tech initiatives

In these deep dives sessions, three civic tech initiatives funded by the African Union Civic Tech Fund (AUCTF) will present and share their new innovations focused on justice, gender and governance issues such as citizens’ participation, service delivery, accountability, transparency, inclusion and access. The innovators are particularly invited to highlight how their innovations could enable and facilitate transformative action in their countries and across the African continent. 

Book Talk: Shifting our relationship with technology in conversation with Afua Bruce

In this session, we invite book author, Afua Bruce to share key points from her book The Tech That Comes Next: How changemakers, philanthropists, and technologists can build an equitable world where she urges us to rethink our relationship with technology. The book raises increasingly important points such as who develops the technology, who funds, and how we use it. Bruce will be joined by other stakeholders with an interest in the complex intersections between civic engagement, public good, and technology.

MIT + Community-Focused Tech Entrepreneurship

This session brought together three social innovators from Solve – MIT’s 2022 Global Challenges to explore and share experiences addressing the intersection of technology, social impact and human centered design.

These innovators work with caregivers in the health space, LGBTQI+ youth, teachers and students, and help us think about what we might learn from their work, and where their impact might replicate!

In-Person Sessions

Civic Engagement on Socials

This session provided an informal, yet in-depth discussion on the role of digital strategies through the use of social media platforms in civic engagement. Emmanuel Gamor (EM) shared his diverse technical and personal experiences, both globally and locally, in the world of social media management. Currently, social media investment is biased towards big tech. Although big tech companies like Meta and Google have a global reach, they are not yet truly global organizations.

Introduction to the Data Storytelling Pipeline

Session Blurb: Working with data can be time consuming if you do not have a basic understanding of data and the principles of visual communication. “Data storytelling is the ability to effectively communicate insights from a dataset using narratives and visualizations. It can be used to put data insights into context and inspire action from your audience. When leveraging data as a tool for social change some important key skills are needed to identify, collect, evaluate, analyze, interpret, present, and protect data.

Design tools for data production, packaging and sharing

The session is centered around a case study, highlighting the open data portal developed by OpenUp. In the session, we will introduce concepts of data development and packaging, and demonstrate how it can be used effectively to enhance data work being done in the Civic Tech space. Finally we will discuss the value and importance of bespoke data packaging and how this can bring value to a project or product.


#Unplugged Music

CTIF and Jamfest have an emergent tradition of celebrating African innovation alongside the recognition and enjoyment of the artistic and cultural talents that inspire us as Africans and breath out our values and truths and creativity. At this year’s conference, we continue in this tradition by inviting to the stage the wonderful talent of Mellow Mmino, a South African artist, born and bred in the Limpopo Province. Following in the footsteps of celebrated artists like Judith Sephuma, Mellow Mmino embarked on her musical journey as a singer/songwriter in 2017.

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