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Practicing the Principles of Digital Development in East Africa: Dar es Salaam 2017


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On Oct. 12, 2017, a diverse group of over 100 digital development professionals gathered in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to discuss how to put the Principles for Digital Development into practice within the context of East Africa’s rapid growth. This event was the first event in a three-part series of events organized by the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL), focused on sharing innovations directly from implementers and practical guidance on the Digital Principles. In Dar es Salaam, the discussion focused on three of the nine Principles – Be Collaborative, Design with the User and Understand the Ecosystem.

“This is where collaboration happens. At tables like these.” –

— Allana Nelson

With a variety of representatives from the private sector, NGOs, Tanzanian government and more, participants all brought an array of perspectives and concrete examples of how the Principles for Digital Development—nine “living” guidelines designed to help digital development practitioners integrate established best practices into technology-enabled programs—had impacted their work. As a result, the day was full of thought-provoking presentations, open and honest conversations among peers and workshops with real-world applications.

Below are some of the highlights, and you can also check out the livestream archived on DIAL’s facebook page here.

The morning began with Carolyn Florey, DIAL’s Director of Collective Impact, who provided a brief history and background of the Principles, which grounded conversations among participants throughout the day.

Engineer Clarence Ichwekeleza, the Director of Communications at Ministry of Works, Transport and Communications in Tanzania, delivered the opening keynote and provided additional framing for the day by addressing the local digital ecosystem. She touched on the abundant opportunities in East Africa, the challenges that remain and how the Digital Principles could help technology-enabled development programs be more effective and efficient in Tanzania and beyond.

The momentum continued as a high-level plenary engaged in an open and frank discussion about one of the Digital Principles: Be Collaborative. They highlighted successes and provided examples of common challenges that arise when collaborating across the private and public sectors.

The next Principle featured, Design with the User, was framed around eight insightful lightning talks from implementers who have worked through the inclusive human-centered design process and therefore could share learnings from the experience. Speakers included:

  • Eric Layer, Chief Program Officer at D-Tree International
  • Eliguard Dawson, Tanzania Country Officer at the Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT)
  • Obedy Kamajenzi, Graphics System Designer and ICT Consultant at DataVision International
  • Nisha Ligon, Co-founder and CEO of Ubongo Kids
  • Ivan Gayton, Senior Consultant at HOT Tanzania/Ramani Huria
  • JoyAnne Muthee, Regional Designer for Medic Mobile
  • Ephraim Tonya, Project Manager at Catholic Relief Services (CRS)
  • Alfred Mchau, VillageReach

For the third Principle, Understand the Ecosystem, HDIF Team Leader David McGinty shared real-life examples that highlighted the need to understand the existing ecosystem to inform how digital development programs are designed, implemented and monitored. Participants then moved into a workshop session where groups mapped out their personal ecosystems and shared the results.

Marrying all the conversations and learnings from the day, a panel focused on the impact of the Principles—including stories from implementers and funders in East Africa on why the Digital Principles are important in their work and how they have helped to improve their programs. The all-female plenary was made up of Lea Gimpel from GIZ, Woinde Shisael of Tigo, Hannah Metcalfe of HNI, Edith Turuka of the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communications and was moderated by Iku Lazaro of Shule Direct. A discussion highlight was each speaker sharing their favorite Principle and the one that they find most challenging to implement.

The closing keynote was given by the Better Immunization Data (BID) Initiative Tanzania Director at PATH, Henry Mwanyika, and encapsulated the day’s discussions within the context of the local ecosystem. He discussed the future of digital development in East Africa, particularly Tanzania, as exciting and inspiring, but not without its challenges. By using the Principles, he believed the challenges could be met and resolved, and that progress would continue.

“Digitalization is creating more opportunities than ever before. But it requires a mindset change that we need to embrace.”

– Henry Mwanyika

To cap the day’s activities and productive discussions, the Digital Impact Alliance CEO, Kate Wilson, delivered remarks calling on the participants to stay engaged with the Digital Principles community to tackle together the challenges we face so that strides in digital development benefit all people, everywhere.

Hope you act upon what learned today so the #digitalprinciples turn into action @DIAL_Kate @DIAL_community

The next event will be held in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, December 7, in FHI 360’s Academy Hall. The three principles featured at this event will be Address Privacy and Security, Be Data Driven and Use Open Standards, Open Data, Open Source and Open Innovation. If your organization is interested in partnering with DIAL to design workshop sessions for this event, please contact the Digital Principles Program Manager, Allana Nelson, at

Join the conversation and engage with your fellow digital development practitioners on the new Digital Principles Forum at

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