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Plenary Roundtable: Civic Tech Futures: Exploring Pathways to Sustainable Financing
October 18, 2023 @ 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Session Format: Roundtable Discussion
- Yvonne Eweka, Co-Creation Hub (CcHUB)
- Prudence Ngwenya, African Union Commission (AUC)
- Fred Kusambiza, Planact
- Antoinette Engel, Electric South
Civic tech and media innovation in Africa is undoubtedly invaluable, particularly because of what these innovations have done and continue to do for citizens. Equally, philanthropic organisations play an important role in funding the continuation of this work. The relationship between innovators who need funding (fundees) and philanthropic organisations who are in the business of funding innovators in the civic tech and media space (funders) is constantly evolving and adapting to new opportunities, risks and challenges in the space. The fundees pool is saturated with similar initiatives vying for the same funders. This presents a challenge for initiatives wanting to do sustainable work particularly because of the lack of guarantees about future funding. Future funding mostly depends on funders staying the course, funders believing and seeing value in the work being done, and consistency in their strategic direction. When these factors change, fundees find themselves in difficult positions.
The overreliance on these limited groups of funders has led to some important discussions about the viability of these lop-sided funder-fundee relationships. African civic tech organisations have begun talking about alternative ways to sustain and scale the work they do. Reports like the ‘Growing and Sustaining African Civic Tech’ have provided some new ways of thinking about funding in the civic tech and media innovation landscape. This discussion will provide another opportunity to dig deep and explore alternative pathways to sustainable financing.