Digital Frontiers is a $74.4 million buy-in mechanism available to USAID Bureaus and Missions from 2017-2022. DAI implements the Digital Frontiers project, which works closely with USAID’s Global Development Lab (GDL), the Center for Digital Development (CDD), USAID Missions, the private sector, and international and local development organizations to identify successful and sustainable digital development approaches and scale their impact globally.
In August 2019, USAID/Senegal completed the Burkina Faso and Niger Digital Assessment for Food Security and Resilience and discovered that USAID is investing increasing amounts of resources in digital tools across the Sahel, but that those tools are largely siloed into various individual activities. The region does not have a coordinating mechanism to ensure adherence to the Principles for Digital Development and to the Agency’s new Digital Strategy. As a result, the risk of overlapping investments in digital tools and uncoordinated or poorly designed approaches to digital development is high. Due to the high risks of online hate speech, and other dangers that technology poses in these already fragile communities, the risk that this lack of coordination presents is apparent.
Digital Frontiers is seeking a Digital Development and Strategy Consultant (Consultant) who will be based in Niamey, Niger (*see note under Timeframe and LOE) for three to five months to help establish and facilitate the launch of a Digital Working Group to coordinate and oversee all USAID digital activities in Burkina Faso and Niger. In these countries, USAID will invest roughly $700 million over 5 years through the RISE II project, which will require coordination between activities, other donors and local institutions. The Digital Working Group will aim to harmonize existing digital efforts and ensure the coherence of current and future digital interventions. The working group will also ensure that USAID digital investments have the tools and resources to mitigate risks at every opportunity.
The creation of the working group will be carried out by the Consultant who will embed him/herself in the Sahel Collaboration and Communication activity, which is an existing activity aimed at enhancing collaboration between all RISE II activities (however, Digital Frontiers will provide the funds for the salary, relocation, transportation, benefits, administrative and equipment needs of the Consultant). The Consultant will help define the working group, including goals, governance, structure, and internal process. The Sahel Collaboration and Communication activity will take on the implementation of the working group, using lessons learned from the RISE II Objective 1 and Objective 2 working groups being implemented in Niger and Burkina Faso. The Consultant will support SCC and transition leadership to manage the working group to SCC or if possible, a relevant government agency (such as in Niger ANSI) after the term of this buy-in activity in order to ensure sustainability.
The Consultant will work directly with USAID/Sahel Regional Office, USAID/Niger and USAID/Burkina Faso and implementing partners to achieve the objectives. USAID/Sahel Regional Office will lead on this engagement and will be the primary contact with all U.S. Government and external stakeholders. Digital Frontiers project staff will work with USAID/LAB/CDD, other U.S. Government stakeholders, implementing partners and other stakeholders on a technical level as necessary. **
1. TASK 1 – Stakeholder Interviews to inform formation of the Working Group
- Scan of existing information: analyze and compile relevant data and information available already related to the start-up of a Digital Working Group, with the support of SCC, USAID and other stakeholders.
- If additional information is necessary, create a standard interview template to collect feedback from the interviews with stakeholders in Niger, Burkina Faso and USAID/SRO.
- Conduct initial stakeholder interviews with key projects; Share lessons learned, etc.
- Conduct interviews with the Mission POC and stakeholders including key implementing partners in the region to better understand their current digital-related activities and gather their input on the working group
- Summarize the findings of the initial scan of information and interviews to inform Task 2 – Governance Approach.
- With the USAID/SRO, USAID/Niger and USAID/Burkina Faso, and SCC identify key stakeholders who will participate in the working group.
- Ensure that the working group includes individuals and projects that represent and/or work with women and other marginalized/vulnerable groups in the region.
2. TASK 2 -Governance Approach
- Use findings from Task 1 to develop a Digital Working Group governance approach
- Work with the USAID/SRO Mission POC and SCC to review Draft 1 of Governance Approach, solicit feedback through a co-creation meeting with identified stakeholders, and develop the final document based on feedback.
- With USAID, engage other donors and local institutions who could potentially participate in the working group.
- Develop a sustainability plan for the working group to continue through SCC and beyond.
3. TASK 3 – Implementing Partner Engagement and Launch
- Work with SCC to understand lessons learned from year 1 of SCC’s implementation of RISE II working groups for Objectives 1 and 2. Identify and engage implementing partners representatives to participate in the working group. Understand the needs and preferences of IPs for the working group.
- The Digital Frontiers technical expert may also provide ad hoc advice to implementing partners on their digital development challenges/questions in order to show value, gain trust and ensure buy-in to the working group.
- Plan the inaugural session of the Digital Working Group with SCC support
- Host the inaugural meeting
- Create a short summary document of meeting conclusions/ minutes.
- If needed, build capacity of SCC staff members who will implement the working group
4. TASK 4 – Transition
The Digital Frontiers Consultant, SCC staff, and the mission POC will collaborate on the design of the working group. The Digital Frontiers expert will ensure a smooth transition as their work ends. Final tasks will include:
- Working with Mission POC to define the internal management structure of the Digital Working Group after the TA has ended, including key staff who will lead the effort.
- Creating a ‘hand-over’ document for identified working group chairs to help them manage the working group after TA is completed. This document would include any priority next steps (e.g. establishing a governance document) to ensure a seamless transition.
- Completion of information scan, stakeholder interviews and implementing partner review and compilation of information
- Summarize results of stakeholder meetings
- Draft 1 of Working Group Governance Approach completed
- Co-creation meeting with identified stakeholders to provide input on the Governance Approach
- Final draft of Working Group Governance Approach completed
- Complete inaugural working group session
- Final summary document of working group session
- Familiarity with USAID-funded and other donor-funded digital development projects in the Sahel
- Network of contacts with implementing partners (USAID or otherwise) in the region
- Experience creating and/or leading working groups or communities of practice
- Experience leading or managing a team
- Strong communication and relationship-building skills with a wide variety of stakeholders
- Ability to be flexible in a fast-paced and rapidly changing space
- English language fluency required
- French language fluency strongly preferred
- West Africa work experience preferred
- A Master’s Degree in international development or a related field preferred, but not necessary
TIMEFRAME AND LOE
May – August 2021
*Ideally, this effort will be led by a 5-month, full-time technical expert based in Niger or Burkina Faso. However, regional or overseas-based experts who can travel to Niger and Burkina Faso for one or more TDYs over the course of the 5 months will also be considered. The full-time technical expert will be supported by a part-time technical expert on an as-needed basis to provide technical input and review final deliverables.
Please note that there may be adjustments to the location, period of performance and key tasks due to travel restrictions and social distancing requirements.