Summit on Community Networks in Africa Program Committee Governance Structure

Last Revision 03: Feb 19, 2020

Executive Summary

This document details the governance framework determining how the Program Committee for the Summit on Community Networks in Africa (referred to as “PC”) will be structured and regulated. It consists of a description of the relevant governance structure, the composition of PC members, their duties and bylaws. The outlining of the specific governance policies and procedures should help determine their effective ongoing operation.

Objective and Mandate

The objective and mandate of the PC is to:

  • Provide input and guidance on future locations of CN Summit events;
  • Provide potential host country and dates of the next CN summit event and at least 10  months prior to the proposed dates.
  • Develop the theme, context and topics of future CN Summit events;
  • Develop the format, length and agenda of future CN Summit events;
  • Secure speakers and panelists of future CN Summit events;
  • Coordinate with the Secretariat on the logistics requirement needed to execute the agenda efficiently.
  • Facilitate discussions as session moderators or chairs at future CN Summit events;
  • Manage and provide direction in the execution and delivery of the final agenda during the CN Summit events. This includes making coordinated adjustments to as need arises, during the Summit, to ensure that the agenda flows;
  • May solicit feedback from previous CN Summit events to be considered in developing later agendas; and
  • Propose areas of improvement and complementing activities to enhance the CN Summit event.


The structure of the CN Summit PC will consist of a Chairperson, co-chair, PC Members and at least two support staff from the secretariat. It is expected that the PC will choose to limit the number of members to a size they believe is manageable; as such, the maximum number of PC members is set at nine (9). The annual PC selection process will therefore not exceed the set upper limit. This will provide an opportunity for efficient operation and the evolution of an organisation structured in the most suitable manner to meet the future demands of the Summit’s activity. The types of members will be:

Community Selected PC members
  • Chair and Co-Chair  – Tasked with formal representational tasks, the chair and co-Chair do not have any voting privileges over the rest of the PC.
  • PC Members – Please refer to the “PC Members Duties” section.
Support PC members
  • Secretariat Support staff – Will serve as the secretariat and liaison between the secretariat[1], and the PC.
  • (Optional) Local host Support staff – A rotational seat for a liaison from the local host to be appointed by the local host, and to serve for a term that ends with the conclusion of that Summit. If the liaison nominated by the local host is already a PC member, the rotational seat becomes void. The appointment of this seat should take place in parallel with the selection of new PC members or at a later date when the location of the next CN Summit is confirmed.

Other Details include:

  1. A Chair and a Co-Chair to be appointed by the PC membership via a voting mechanism at the initial establishment. The appointment of Chair and Co-Chair will last for one year, the PC will appoint the following Chair and Co-Chair after the selection of the new PC.
  2. Serving PC members are eligible to serve more than one term subject to the acceptance of their application for another term. The member in question will not be able to take part in the voting process, and neither will the PC Support Staff.
  3. Over 50% of the current PC membership is required to approve the appointment of all new PC members.  
  4. The Chairperson of the PC will then communicate the appointment of the new member(s).

PC Members Duties

All PC membership has a relatively flat structure with all Members having equal status. A chair and co-chair are elected to represent the group in formal settings, and either of them is required to open and conclude the PC meetings.

PC members must be willing to contribute to the discussions on the PC mailing list. PC members must also be willing to attend online-conference calls when needed. PC members are expected to allot some extra time prior to upcoming CN Summit events to finalize the agenda, conclude on speakers and any other last minute agenda related matters that may arise.

Overall Duties
  1. Advance CN Summit’s mission, vision, and values
  2. Propose and review changes to long-term objectives and Summit’s mission, vision and values.
  3. Ensure continuity of the CN Summit event.
  4. Develop the agenda to cater to local sensitivities.
  5. Provide the CN Summit event with access to intellectual capital and best practices through individual relationships and leverage all stakeholder contacts.
  6. Develop a thorough understanding of issues as well as strategic implications and resulting requirements.
  7. The PC is empowered to internally/privately address concerns on the code of conduct or conflict of interest of any PC member, and initiate remedial action guided by principles of upholding good governance.
  8. As a last resort, handle complaints that have been escalated to the PC.

For clarity, the detailed duties of the PC members can be broken down into three phases, in relation to the CN summit event,  as follows;

Pre- Summit Duties
  1. Identify possible hosts for the Summit, including providing motivation why the host is interesting/ valuable from a CNs perspective. This is to be presented to ISOC and APC latest 10 months prior to the Summit dates.
  2. Develop the skeleton agenda that caters for local and regional sensitivities and submit to the organiser(s) no later than 3 months prior to the Summit.
  3. Coordinate with the secretariat on the event’s main focus and logistics requirement for all sessions on the agenda.
  4. Finalise the agenda, including potential speakers for the training and plenary agenda in consultation with the from organisers and host no later than 2 months before the Summit.
  5. Liaise with the host, through their pc member appointee, and the logistic committees to ensure that the agenda can run smoothly.
  6. Some PC members may be requested to support the organisers to review the fellowship applications.
Summit Duties (On Site)
  1. Support speakers to prepare and deliver their session.
  2. Liaise with the host and the logistic committees to ensure that the agenda can run. This may require daily meetings to review and ensure all is prepared for the agenda to be delivered.
  3. PC members attending the summit will be expected to serve as session moderators or chairs in the course of the event.
Post Summit Duties
  1. Provide general feedback and recommendations on event organisation, operations and performance, where necessary.
  2. Provide detailed feedback through timely completion of fill-in self-assessment forms and other PC members’ assessment-forms.
  3. Timely review and evaluation of assessment forms and
  4. Review and selection of new members in accordance with the guidelines set out in this PC Charter.

PC Membership

A. Who can apply for Membership?

Anyone with proven track record in establishing and or supporting community networks in Africa and who is willing to volunteer some time and expertise to the cause of CN Summit can apply. There are no restrictions, be it age, geography, stakeholder group, affiliation, etc. However, preference will be given to applicants who have attended at least one Africa CN Summit meeting. A PC member will also serve according to what has been stated earlier in terms of duration of a term and number of terms.

B. Compensation

Membership in the PC is on a voluntary basis, and thus no financial compensation is incurred.

C. Term of Membership

The term of any PC member is three (3) years starting December 1 of any given year and ends on Nov 30 three (3) years later.

The inaugural PC has 5 members and they have all currently served at least 2 years. For continuity, the inaugural PC members who express their inability to continue serving will voluntarily step down from the PC. This will pave the way for new members to be chosen for the next PC.

Every year thereafter, PC members who have served the 3-year term limit will be replaced by new members chosen for the next PC.

Members of the PC for any given term are announced online.

D. How to Apply for Membership?

When the term of some PC members approaches conclusion, a call will go out announcing the need for new PC members to serve on the PC for a term of 3 years. The call will be accompanied with an application form that must be duly filled out and sent back as instructed in the call. All members of the current PC will evaluate the applications received and decide accordingly.

The call is expected to go out during the CN Summit event (that usually takes place in August/September) to give enough time for interested parties to apply, and for PC members to evaluate and make the final decision. Once the call is closed, no new applications will be accepted, and no special status will be given to any applicant beyond the application close date.

E. Stepping down from the PC

If a PC member decides to step down from the PC for any reason before his/her term runs to end, this must be conveyed to the other PC members in writing via the PC dedicated mailing list.

The PC may then decide on appointing a replacement by choosing the most relevant candidate from the pool of applicants that had applied for the most recent call but were not successful in making it to the PC. The newly installed replacement PC member will serve until the end of the stepped-down member’s term.

Alternatively, the PC may, through a majority consensus, continue as-is (ie. choose not to appoint an additional member, until the next selection event)

F. Conflicts of Interest

Members of the PC will serve the best interests of the CN Summit; which aims to strengthen the Community Networks movement in Africa. Members of the PC will be expected to steer away from any personal interests or perks.

Revision of the PC Governance Structure

Any member of the PC can request for a revision and/or change to the PC governance structure document. For such a change to happen, PC members must discuss amongst themselves, and a majority vote (more than 50% of the PC members) must be undertaken for the change to happen.[2]

Modus Operandi

  1. Members of the PC will conduct their work over a dedicated closed mailing list and will hold teleconference calls when the need arises.
  2. Members can hold online meetings pre, post or face-to-face during the CN Summit event if necessary.
  3. The PC will aim to achieve consensus when decisions are made, else single majority of those present at a given meeting will be used. More than half of the PC members need to be at any given meeting for decisions to be made. On most matters that require a vote, the chair will abstain from voting, unless in situations where the chair’s vote will break the tie.
  1. Discussions, motions, and decisions which take place will be recorded by the secretariat.
  2. Minutes of the meetings will be circulated by the secretariat to all PC members within ten working days from the meeting date.
  3. Minutes of the meetings will be deemed approved by all PC members unless remarks are provided in writing to the secretariat within a period of five working days after the date of circulation.
  4. The PC may record conference calls on request and subject to approval by all. All conference call recordings will be considered private and confidential and will not be publicly accessible.

Chairperson and Co-chair Selection Process

  1. The PC will select from a shortlist of interested parties for the two positions, taking into account the fact that the ideal candidates must:
  2. Must be willing to commit the time required to serve as chair or co-chair of the PC
  3. Have had demonstrable, meaningful exposure to general management responsibilities;
  4. Have exhibited a specific ability to deal with the key general management challenges;
  5. Have a strong functional understanding of the business, policy and technical areas that Summit operates in; and
  6. Have a track record of unequivocal accomplishments in prior positions.
  7. The PC will vote on the shortlist candidates and select two candidates for chair and co-chair. This process will take place annually after the Summit has taken place.

PC Member Evaluations

  1. Establish and implement an assessment form to evaluate PC member performances including individual self-assessment performance, the performance of other PC member and support;
  2. Consider the results of the evaluations in connection with the renewal of the terms of existing PC members; and
  3. Review and make recommendations to the PC: PC composition, PC size, PC structures, PC policies and procedures, By-law amendments, and other relevant matters.

External Communications

  1. The PC will ensure information dissemination of the CN Summit PC decisions to all relevant stakeholders.
  2. Initiate and/or endorse strategic partnerships.
  3. Create awareness of new outreach opportunities for CN Summit.
  4. Use the CN Summit, and related mailing lists to send out relevant messages.

[1] The secretariat is currently operated by The Internet Society (ISOC).

[2] The support members will not be part of the voting process.