Welcome to the fourth in a series of profiles of NetHope members and partners entitled ‘I am NetHope.’ These individuals represent a broad spectrum of our member organizations, tech partners, and funders. They demonstrate the collaborative spirit that was the founding principal of NetHope 18 years ago, and continues today. They reinforce the concept that we are better together and that when it comes to NetHope you get what you give.
“My heart is in Network and Systems infrastructure,” says Elizabeth Njoroge. She puts this passion to good use as the International ICT Operations Manager (Africa, Middle East & Latin America Caribbean regions) for Christian Aid UK, a position she has held for the last nine months.
But she also holds another notable position: the sitting chair of the NetHope Africa Chapter and the first female to chair the Africa Chapter.
As chair, Njoroge is tasked with harnessing the experience and expertise within the environment of African ICT professionals to learn, establish, and share best practices in technology, coordinating regional actors, and organizing local chapter meetings and discussions with external partners.
“As I lead NetHope Africa Chapter,” says Njoroge, “I desire to see engagements with NetHope at country level by opening up local NetHope chapters.”
With an eight-year career invested in nonprofits, Njoroge started out as a Regional ICT officer in World Vision Kenya and later with World Vision Somalia as a Customer Support Analyst.
“I started off as 1st and 2nd line support, VSAT installations, and with a responsibility of overseeing delivery of ICT projects within those areas of operation with close liaison with our headquarters in Nairobi,” she notes. While she enjoyed her earlier experiences, she sought more challenges and after a time, she felt it was time to seek more engaging tasks.
Her interest in network and systems infrastructure got her engaged as a System Administrator at World Vision and gave her the opportunity to explore various projects while still in the field. While at World Vision, she gained a familiarity with NetHope and the Inter Agency Working Group opened to her to by her then supervisor, Daniel Mwanzau, who appointed her Acting ICT Manager for World Vision Kenya.
Njoroge says although she ultimately did not land the job, “it didn’t stop my aspirations and interactions with (NetHope and the Working Group). Although she says that most of the interactions with NetHope were mainly targeted to leaders within the organizations, she has “seen more leaders encouraging and bringing their field teams to NetHope and it’s a great step in molding NetHope.”
Within the Connectivity and Infrastructure Working Group, demand aggregation and alternative power solutions have taken center stage. The Africa Chapter is working to actualize and harness the possibilities and take further advantage of the economies of scale in sourcing for these solutions.
Njoroge notes that Christian Aid UK has benefited from its membership with NetHope through discounts extended to members on various products; key of them being Meraki equipment and Microsoft licensing. Some of staff have also benefited from the humanitarian response training and have managed to participate in emergency response in AME and LAC.
She witnessed direct benefits as, Christian Aid benefited from NetHope’s collaborative ICT response in emergency support, providing connectivity in Sierre Leone during the Ebola outbreak in 2015.
During her tenure as Chapter Chair, Njoroge hopes to strengthen NetHope engagement from the grassroots, including field offices and incorporating country offices’ management into NetHope forums. During the last Africa Chapter meeting, she was pleased with a session with the Country Director from Save the Children that “was an eye opener” in what the group is missing in incorporating the business into technology discussions and forums.
“Our field teams are our foot soldiers” she states, “and will provide much needed field experience which can be harnessed to build a stronger NetHope and transform more lives through technology.”