Africa Regional Internet and Development Dialogue 2017

Enhancing Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Education in Africa through the Internet

The first ever Africa Regional Internet and Development Dialogue was successfully held from 8-9 May in Kigali, Rwanda, in partnership with UNESCO and Republic of Rwanda Ministry of Youth and ICT. The event gathered 161 high level local and foreign experts from various organizations including AFRINIC, WACREN, UBUNTUNET, ASREN, ECOWAS, UNECA, AUC, African Universities etc.


Africa is one of the largest continents of the world with abundant resources that are key to its economic growth. However, despite of its natural and human resources, the continent remains to be faced with considerable development challenges. Today, Africa stands at a crossroad. New opportunities are rising ahead. Through creating an enabling environment, Africa can bring a much-needed economic transformation and development if it uses these opportunities.

The Internet brings new development opportunities for Africa. The opportunities for an African economic breakthrough through the Internet are real and within reach. The democratization of entrepreneurship and innovation can open tremendous opportunities to African countries. But is Africa using these Internet of opportunities? Recently, there have been some encouraging signs of some African countries building their Internet infrastructure and creating a real economy around the Internet. Some of these countries are already reaping the benefits of the Internet economy. They are also using the Internet to transform all aspects of their economic, social and political lives but a lot still remains to be done.


The main objective of the 2017 Africa Regional Internet and Development Dialogue was to create a forum for all stakeholders to discuss the various opportunities and requirements for entrepreneurship and innovation as well as for education for this new age of the Internet. The conference is part of the global series of Internet Development conferences organized by the Internet Society with the aim of supporting the implementation of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Therefore, the conference offered open high-level discussions addressing the following dimensions:

  • Internet and SDGs
  • Connecting the Next Billion
  • African Internet Economy
  • Opportunities for Africa’s education

The meeting will bring together stakeholders interested in using the Internet for the development of Africa to discuss about their different initiatives and create synergy amongst them for better impact. It will be a two-day program focusing on two major themes:

  • The African Internet Economy
  • The Use of Internet to Transform the African Education

The Africa Regional Internet and Development Dialogue will be hosted by Internet Society (ISOC) and the Ministry of Youth and ICT of the Republic of Rwanda. UNESCO is also a partner of the meeting. The event will also be held few days before Transform Africa Summit 2017. This is expected to elevate its overall value, ensuring high level participation from the region and beyond.

Study Papers

The internet Society launched two study papers at this event:

Day 1 Presentations
  • Achievements and opportunities for the use of the Internet in education in West Africa (PPP / PDF)
  • Connecting West and Central Africa to the Global Research and Education Network (PPP / PDF)
  • Connecting the Next Billion: Why we must REACT to the Growing Digital Gender Gap (PPP / PDF)
  • Can MOOCs solve Africa’s educational challenges (PPP / PDF)
  • MIT Digital Learning Providing Quality Education at Scale (PPP / PDF)
  • Research and Education networks: Responding to the challenges of African Research (PPP / PDF)
  • The Digital Literacy – Kenya Case – True Story (PPP / PDF)
  • Providing local content for Africa’s schools using Wikipedia (PFD)
  • Internet for Education: Helping Policy Makers to Meet the Global Education Agenda (SDG4) (PPP / PDF)
Day 2 Presentations
  • Innovative ICT startups in Kenya (PDF)
  • Hubs: Catalyst for Innovation in Africa (PDF)
  • The creation of the Kenyan Internet Economy (PDF)
  • Promoting the African Internet Economy (PDF)
  • Use of technologies in the future of work : opportunity or social challenge? (PPT)

Find the event’s agenda, recording of the event livestream and event photos here.

Dr Dawit Bekele (right), Internet Society Regional Bureau Director for Africa, speaking during the opening of the inaugural African Regional Development Dialogue in Kigali, Rwanda on 8 May 2017. (Left to right: Indrajit Bannerjee, Director of the Knowledge Societies Division at UNESCO; Joyce Dogniez, Senior Director for Global Engagement at the Internet Society; HE Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Rwanda’s Minister for Youth and ICT; Dr Hamadoun Touré, Executive Director of Smart Africa; and Dr Dawit Bekele, Internet Society Regional Bureau Director for Africa.)

Date and Time

Monday 08 May 2017 –

Tuesday 09 May 2017


Kigali Marriott Hotel

Featured speakers and panelists

Portrait photo  of Jean Philbert Nsengimana

Jean Philbert Nsengimana

Minister of Youth and ICT, Republic of Rwanda

Before joining the Government of Rwanda, Jean Philbert Nsengimana worked for: 1. Voxiva Inc. as a Country Director (2008-2010): Built and led teams that delivered award winning mobile health solutions:… Read more about Jean Philbert Nsengimana

Portrait photo  of Constance Bommelaer de Leusse

Constance Bommelaer de Leusse

Former Vice President, Institutional Relations and Empowerment

Constance was with the Internet Society until November 2022. She was Vice President of Institutional Relations and Empowerment. Image credit: © Jordi Ruiz Cirera/Panos Read more about Constance Bommelaer de Leusse

Portrait photo  of Indrajit Banerjee

Indrajit Banerjee

Director, Knowledge Societies Division, UNESCO

Born in 1964, Mr Banerjee obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Arts and Sciences (1985) from the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, Pondicherry (India), and a Master of… Read more about Indrajit Banerjee

Portrait photo  of Hamadoun Toure

Hamadoun Toure

Executive Director, SMART Africa Alliance

In October 2015 Hamadoun Toure was appointed as Founding Executive Director of SMART Africa Alliance and he took office in January 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda. Hamadoun was Secretary General of… Read more about Hamadoun Toure

Portrait photo  of Joyce Dogniez

Joyce Dogniez

Vice President, Empowerment and Outreach, Internet Society Foundation

Joyce was the Vice President, Community Engagement in Community Engagement team at the Internet Society until December 2022. She is now with the Internet Society Foundation. Read more about Joyce Dogniez

Portrait photo  of Abdoulkarim Soumailia

Abdoulkarim Soumailia

Secretary General, African Telecommunication Union

Portrait photo  of Lishan Adam

Lishan Adam

Lishan Adam, is a researcher and consultant with extensive experience in ICT sector analysis in emerging economies. He specialises in broadband access, infrastructure development, policy and regulation, e-government systems and… Read more about Lishan Adam

Portrait photo  of Boubakar Barry

Boubakar Barry


Originally from Senegal, Boubakar is the CEO of WACREN, the West and Central African Research and Education Network. Prior to joining WACREN, he was the Coordinator of the Research and… Read more about Boubakar Barry

Portrait photo  of Dawit Bekele

Dawit Bekele

Regional Vice President - Africa

I am a Regional Vice President for Africa at the Internet Society. I have more than two decades of experience in Internet development in Africa and around the world. At… Read more about Dawit Bekele

Portrait photo  of Pierre Dandjinou

Pierre Dandjinou

VP, Stakeholder Engagement - Africa, ICANN

Pierre joined ICANN in December 2012, as the VP for Africa. He coordinates implementation of ICANN's strategic plan for Africa and is responsible for outreach, support and engagement with all… Read more about Pierre Dandjinou

Portrait photo  of Tighe Flanagan

Tighe Flanagan

Education Team Manager, Wikimedia Foundation

Tighe manages the education team at the Wikimedia Foundation. They support program leaders around the world who use Wikipedia in education (both inside and outside the classroom). The impact that… Read more about Tighe Flanagan

Portrait photo  of Roksi Freeman

Roksi Freeman

Digital Publication Specialist, MIT OpenCourseWare

Roksi comes from a background in social neuroscience research. She is passionate about the open sharing of science education, and has since come to MIT OpenCourseWare to help make high… Read more about Roksi Freeman

Portrait photo  of Carl Gahnberg

Carl Gahnberg

Director, Policy Development & Research

I am Director of Policy Development and Research at the Internet Society, where I focus on issues related to Internet governance. In this role, I contribute to the organization’s global… Read more about Carl Gahnberg

Portrait photo  of Aminata A. Garba

Aminata A. Garba

Assistant Professor, Carnegie Mellon University

Aminata is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University and Director of the Kigali Collaborative Research Center. She previously served as the… Read more about Aminata A. Garba

Portrait photo  of Pascal Hoba

Pascal Hoba

CEO, Ubuntunet Alliance

Pascal Hoba, PhD, is the CEO of Ubuntunet Alliance (Regional Research Education Network) since January 20015. Previously was director of Knowledge management and ICT services at the Association of African… Read more about Pascal Hoba

Portrait photo  of Victor Kyalo

Victor Kyalo

Communications Engineer

Eng. Victor Kyalo is a Communications engineer with a wide experience in systems design, integration and project management. He has been involved in the information systems networking/telecommunications for the last… Read more about Victor Kyalo

Portrait photo  of Michael Kende

Michael Kende

Senior Advisor at Analysys Mason; Digital Development Specialist, IFC

Michael Kende is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Trade and Economic Integration and Visiting Lecturer at the Graduate Institute of Geneva, teaching a course on Internet Economics and… Read more about Michael Kende

Portrait photo  of Alex Masika

Alex Masika

Head of Commercial Sales, BRCK Limited

Alex Masika is a seasoned professional with over 15 years’ experience in the Energy and IT sector. He has previously worked for Chevron Energy, Digital Divide Data, Google and is… Read more about Alex Masika

Portrait photo  of Michuki Mwangi

Michuki Mwangi

Distinguished Technologist, Internet Growth

I'm the Distinguished Technologist for Internet Growth at the Internet Society. I lead the Internet Growth portfolio, which focuses on measuring, building, and extending a resilient Internet to those who… Read more about Michuki Mwangi

Portrait photo  of Ghislain Nkeramugaba

Ghislain Nkeramugaba

IXP Development Expert

As the IXP Development Expert at the Internet Society, I primarily focus on the development of Internet exchange point critical infrastructure and peering and interconnection ecosystems. Prior to joining the… Read more about Ghislain Nkeramugaba

Portrait photo  of Martin Obuya

Martin Obuya

President & Chairman, ISOC Kenya Chapter

• Founder & Chairman, LiJoMe Group Inc. • President & Chairman, Internet Society Kenya Chapter. • Member, Technical Committees - ITU, ATU, FIINA and SATA. • Member, Chamber of Commerce… Read more about Martin Obuya

Portrait photo  of Nanjira Sambuli

Nanjira Sambuli

Digital Equality Advocacy Manager, World Wide Web Foundation

Nanjira is a researcher, policy analyst and advocacy strategist interested in and working on understanding the unfolding impacts of ICT adoption and how those impact governance, innovation, entrepreneurship and societal… Read more about Nanjira Sambuli

Portrait photo  of Clement Uwajeneza

Clement Uwajeneza

CEO, RwandaOnline

Clement Uwajeneza is a technology entrepreneur and CEO at RwandaOnline, an eGovernment provider. Clement also Chairs the Rwanda ICT Chamber and seats on the board of Rwanda Private Sector Federation.… Read more about Clement Uwajeneza

Portrait photo  of Maria-Luz Vega

Maria-Luz Vega

Coordinator of Future of Work Initiative, International Labour Organization

Licence in Labour by the Madrid Universtiy Complutense, 1980-1985 Labour and social security inspector at the Ministry of labour and Social Security ( Spain ), 1986- 1989 Diplome d’Etudes Superieures… Read more about Maria-Luz Vega

Portrait photo  of Moctar Yedaly

Moctar Yedaly

Head, Information Society Division, African Union Commission/Responsable pour la Société de l'information, Union africaine

Moctar Yedaly is a telecom, satellite and computer engineer with an MBA in international business. He graduated from George Washington University, Amity University and Institute of Informatics. He has more… Read more about Moctar Yedaly


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