CSO Week opens today focusing on tech, society

CSO Week 2023 organising committee chairperson Nesia Mahenge, who is also CBM International country director, addresses a news conference in Arusha yesterday on the eve of the start of this year’s CSO Week. With her are Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) executive director Anna Henga (left) and Tanganyika Law Society (TLS) executive director Mariam Othman. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • Among the event’s highlights will be the participation of the Swiss ambassador to Tanzania, Mr Didier Chasot

Arusha.  This year’s CSO Week opens today in Arusha, with several prominent figures poised to participate in discussions centred on the intersection of civil society and technology.

Among the event’s highlights will be the participation of the Swiss ambassador to Tanzania, Mr Didier Chasot, who is expected to deliver the opening remarks at the Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC).

Mr Chasot’s involvement underscores the commitment of development partners to strengthening the civil society sector in Tanzania.

Others prominent individuals who will be in attendance include Arusha mayor Maxmillian Iranqhe, Zanzibar NGOs registrar Ahmed Khalid Abdulla and Stanbic Bank Tanzania head of public sector Doreen Dominic. Stanbic Bank Tanzania is among the sponsors of this year’s CSO Week, which is expected to bring together more than 500 civil society stakeholders.

Mr Abubakar Ally from the global tech giant Apple Inc will deliver a keynote opening presentation titled “Tech and Society”.

 His speech will explore the future of technology and its significance in various areas such as health, education and agribusiness, highlighting the transformative potential of technology in society.

The theme of CSO Week 2023 – “Tech and Society, Now and Beyond” – aims to explore the dynamic relationship between civil society and technology, bringing together civil society organisations (CSOs), policymakers, technologists and other stakeholders.

The goal is to foster knowledge exchange and collaboration on leveraging technology for a positive societal impact in Tanzania.

“We are thrilled to have the diverse participation of key development actors from the government, development partners, citizens and technologists. CSO Week 2023 will facilitate discussions on how CSOs can position themselves in the ever-evolving tech landscape and maximise its benefits while mitigating potential adverse effects,” said the chairperson of the organising committee, Ms Nesia Mahenga, who is CBM International country director.

The CSO Week agenda will delve into key topics, including the delicate balance between technology, democracy and civil space and explore ways for CSOs to safeguard freedoms while harnessing the benefits of technological advancements.

The event is aimed at fostering collaboration and innovation to maximise technology’s potential in advancing social development and addressing critical challenges the nation is facing.

Community outreach sessions are scheduled for Wednesday at the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology’s WISE-Futures initiative, focusing on technology’s role in ensuring accountability, transparency and sustainable water resource management.

They will be part of a diverse and insightful array of sessions that will dwell on pressing issues at the intersection of technology and society.

Participants can expect exploration of various themes, ranging from the transformative influence of technology on education to the role of digital innovation in elections and democracy.

Sessions will also shed light on the dynamics of youth-led entrepreneurship in the digital age and its potential for fostering accountability and good governance in public projects.

 Discussions will extend to gender equality and examine how technology catalyses innovation and empowerment.

“The opportunities and challenges that women and girls face in harnessing digital technology will be scrutinised with the aim being to bridge the digital divide. Digital inclusion and empowerment, data’s potential for social impact and strategies to bolster cybersecurity and data privacy for CSOs are other important topics on the agenda,” Ms Mahenge said.

The financial landscape will also be in the spotlight, with a focus on leveraging technology for widespread financial inclusion.

The principles of open data and transparency in governance will be explored, along with an emphasis on ethical AI and its applications for social good, promising a week of profound insights and impactful discourse.

CSO Week is organised by at least 30 CSOs in Tanzania, led by the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS).