The DRC Global Event 2021 on Digitalisation - the digital divide and forced displacement

Photo by Rico Reutimann on Unsplash

Every year, DRC sets out to explore problems and their solutions around a pressing topic of transnational dimensions, which affects displaced populations, and which challenges the humanitarian sector. As we strongly believe in the value of collaborative action and knowledge, DRC seeks to enable an event brimming with actors that we do not normally engage with. Actors who will make us smarter, more responsive and accountable towards displacement affected people.

Download the DRC Global Event 2022 Journey Brief

Output Report 2021

Thank you for joining us in the 2021 global innovation journey. With you, we learned so much around the digital divide and forced displacement. Please revisit sessions below and Download the output report 2021 packed full of useful information and knowledge. Get it here

The DRC Global Event on Digitalisation was held on 24th Nov 2021. Enriching, insightful, thought-provoking and actionable.

Please find recap video of the journey and recordings of each session below


Please find the recordings of each keynote and session below.

Please find the recordings of each keynote and session below.

The full playlist of the DRC Global Event 2021 is available to watch on YouTube HERE.

9.00 - 09.10

Warm welcome: The Culmination of the DRC Global Event 2021 Journey

By Rikke Johannessen, DRC, and Anders Hvid, DareDisrupt

9.00 - 09.10

Opening Remarks for This Year's DRC Global Event

By HRH Crown Princess Mary

9.30 - 10.15

Opening Keynote: Leadership, Change and Digitalisation - Visions for the Future by Techfugees

Muzna Alzohori, John Monychirin Madong and Benjamin Abunuasi.

Facilitated by Raj Burman.

Muzna Alzohori


Since 2013, a Syrian refugee in Lebanon who is supporting Techfugees Lebanon for the international digital corridor initiative with refugees in Bekaa for digital skills and resettlement pathway. As a writer and filmmaker, Muzna is a key advocator for the rights of refugees and women.

John Monychirin Madong


Prior secondary school teacher in Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya who is supporting community outreach for Techfugees Kenya empowering displaced persons and now a specialist in Information Technology under DAFI Scholarship program.

Benjamin Abunuasi


Congo refugee who is the founder of Youth Innovation Hub in Rwamwanja refugee settlement camp in Uganda leading on uplifting displaced youth entrepreneurs. Benjamin co-leads Techfugees Uganda in the camp to support the #knowledgeisfreedom initiative with displaced communities to provide free digital access to education & health content, streaming services and access to device charging with select partners.

10.15 - 10.30

BREAK: Networking time

10.30 - 11.25

Parallel Sessions: Leveraging the Digital in Humanitarian Response. How do we...?

Digital Employment for the Displaced

Lorraine Charles, Na'amal

Marine Houmeau, Amazon

Desmond Yeo, Tent

Facilitated by Camille Strauss-Kahn, DRC

As the world accelerates into a digital and information-based economy, our relation to employment is being turned on its head. Digital platforms and communities, independent from physical locations, enable global job-matching and birth a new understanding of what even defines an organization, an employer, and an employee. With this session, we wish to unpack this opportunity space for the 82+ million displaced people in the world, while paying attention to the pitfalls. The aim will be to explore if there are hacks to learn from to improve access to sustainable and dignified jobs accessible to displacement-affected people and leverage the potential of a digital world to achieve scale.

Normative Frameworks for Protection of Rights in the Digital Era

Steven B. Jensen, Danish Institute for Human Rights

Juliet Lodge, member of the Biometrics Institute Privacy and Policy Expert Group

Irina Conovali, UNHCR

David Mariano, DRC Advocacy

Facilitated by Rikke Enggaard Olsen, DRC

Digitalization has profoundly impacted the ways in which sensitive and personal data is managed - from biometrics to protection monitoring to digital footprints – carrying with it both benefits and risks. Harvesting the benefits, while navigating the risks without causing harm to the people whose data is managed, requires collaboration by a wide eco-system of actors – ranging from humanitarian agencies, to governments and private sector service providers. As existing normative frameworks come to cards in the face of quickly evolving digitalization mega trends - what lessons do the fields of human rights, protection and biometrics hold for us in terms of development and use of shared ethical principles and norms to guide collective conduct?

Displaced Data? Tackling Digital Financial Inclusion

Tori Samples, Leaf Global Fintech

Barnaby Willitts-King, GSMA

Mumbi Annstella, Tala

Amos Doornbos, World Vision International

Facilitated by Edward Fraser & Alistair Cowan, DRC

Those who’ve been forcibly displaced are all too frequently excluded from accessing financial products and services, not only because they often lack the necessary legal status or requisite identity documents, but also because they lack the digital means to either prove past or develop future financial histories. This sessions aims to explore how digital means can support the forcibly displaced to achieve financial inclusion, as well as the potential pitfalls of doing so, not least exposure to data protection risks.

11.30 - 12.00

Connecting Big Tech and Policy - How Do We Engage Key Players in Shaping the Future of Tech?

An interview with Casper Klynge, Vice President for European Government Affairs, Microsoft

12.00 - 12.30

BREAK: Lunch & Networking Time

12.30 - 13.00

Future Tech Talk: Entering the Exponential Age

Azeem Azhar explores the question: How can we harness the power of technology to serve real needs in society?

13.00 - 13.45

Keynote: The Digital Challenging the Humanitarian Sector

Nick van Praag on Leveraging Digital Technologies for Participation and Accountability.

13:45 - 14.00

Hack4Humanity: An Introduction to a Co-Creative Initiative with DTU Skylab

By Marie Pollmann-Larsen, DTU Skylab & Jakob Myschetzky, DRC

14.15 - 15.10

Parallel Sessions: Leveraging the Digital in Humanitarian Response. Turning the "how?" into "let's!"

Sustainable Business Case for Connectivity

Erika Perez Iglesias, UNHCR

Isaac Kwamy, GSMA

Josephine Miliza, Association for Progressive Communications

Robin Miller, Dalberg

Facilitated by Morten Schacht Högnesen, DRC

This session will explore and investigate different approaches and business models for creating connectivity for displacement affected or other unconnected populations. It will explore the fundamentals of connectivity approaches, what it looks like when it works, what the challenges and pain points preventing larger scale adoption may be, and how we can better partner, organize and finance connectivity for displacement affected populations going forward.

Leveraging Private Partnerships for Better Data Protection

Clint Conlin, Microsoft

Dr Michal Kowalik, Twilio

Ann Kimotho, DRC East Africa

Facilitated by Steffen Kølbek, DRC

Digitalisation is a new way of living, so to speak, creating many new dynamics including for the humanitarian sector. For people of concern, like for everyone. How can IT vendors and iNGOs collaborate to best work with and by these new dynamics? Are we challenged into new partnership constellations? As we work with displacement affected, everything from data to devices to connectivity is a part of people's lives. The panel will be asked to discuss how they view the problems at hand, what are future trends, and will discuss how we can jointly ensure data protection, dignified and prosperous lives for displacement affected?

Human-Centred Design Workshop

Cyndi Dawes, Huddle

Facilitated by Joanna Nevill & Alexandra Singpiel, DRC

Placing people at the centre of our work is a core part of our accountability to affected populations. Experience the basics of a human-centred design approach and learn how to embed a human perspective in your projects and (digital) ways of working to better tackle problems, complexity and uncertainty into the future.

15.10 - 15.45

Closing keynote: Breaking Down the Barriers and Bridging the Digital Divide for the Displacement-Affected

A conversation between Tara Nathan, Executive Vice President for the Humanitarian & Development Sector at Mastercard, and Charlotte Slente, DRC Secretary General

15.45 - 16.00

Concluding Remarks

Wrapping up this year's DRC Global Event on Digitalisation

DRC Patron

HRH Crown Princess Mary

Photographed by Stine Heilmann

Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess is a passionate advocate for health, gender equality and empowerment of women and girls – especially in regions characterised by poverty, turmoil and climate change. The Crown Princess is committed to creating awareness, respect and ensuring focus on vulnerable individuals and groups who are socially isolated. In 2005 she became the Patron of DRC and throughout the years The Crown Princess has travelled to many parts of the world to highlight the challenges and hardship that refugees and internally displaced persons are exposed to. In 2007 The Crown Princess established the Mary Foundation with the mission to prevent and alleviate social isolation through development and management of innovative projects. The Crown Princess is a frequent speaker at international conferences and an honorary member of various organisations and societies. Additionally, she holds a double degree in law and commerce from the University of Tasmania.

Keynote Speakers

Charlotte Slente

Breaking Down the Barriers and Bridging the Digital Divide for the Displacement-Affected

Charlotte Slente was appointed Secretary General of the Danish Refugee Council on December 1st, 2019.Ms Slente comes from a long career in the Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and has held multiple senior management posts central to Denmark's development and humanitarian policy, hereunder State Secretary for Development Policy and Under-Secretary of State for Global Development - heading the Danish International Development Agency DANIDA.

Azeem Azhar

Future Tech Talk: Entering the Expontential Age

Azeem Azhar is an award-winning entrepreneur, analyst, strategist, investor. He produces Exponential View, the leading newsletter and podcast on the impact of technology on our future economy and society. In his recent book, the Exponential, Azhar explains how exponential technology is transforming all of our lives. Would the picture available here be good enough to use?

Nick van Praag

The Digital Challenging the Humanitarian Sector

Founder & Director of Ground Truth Solutions, an international non-governmental organisation that helps people affected by crisis influence the design and implementation of humanitarian aid. Nick van Praag's career spans humanitarian and development work at the EU Commission, the Office of the UNHCR, the Aga Khan Development Network, and The World Bank.

Tara Nathan

Breaking Down the Barriers and Bridging the Digital Divide for the Displacement-Affected

Executive Vice President for the Humanitarian & Development sector at Mastercard. The Humanitarian & Development team is dedicated to creating an ecosystem that streamlines access to education, health, commerce, and other vital services for the most vulnerable communities. Prior to this role, Ms. Nathan served as chief executive officer of Mobile Payment Solutions, a Mastercard/Smart Hub, Inc. joint venture.

Parallel Session Panelists

Lorraine Charles

Digital Employment for the Displaced

Lorraine Charles is the Co-founder and Executive Director of Na'amal, which links forcibly displaced people with remote work opportunities. She is a Research Associate for the Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge. She is also a member of the MIT ReACT Advisory Committee and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) Technical Advisory Committee for ReBuild, their East Africa livelihood programme.

Marine Houmeau

Digital Employment for the Displaced

Marine Houmeau is the Regional Lead of the AWS re/Start program for Sub-Saharan Africa at Amazon Web Services. She is specialized in designing and leading the implementation of Education programs in the humanitarian and social sector. Passionate educator, inclusion & diversity advocate, her objective is to contribute to bridging the global skills gap by providing opportunities to unemployed individuals to upskill and reskill, getting connected to employers with hiring needs.

Steven B. Jensen

Normative Frameworks for Protection of Rights in the Digital Era

Steven L. B. Jensen is Senior Researcher at The Danish Institute for Human Rights. He holds a PhD in History. Before joining The Danish Institute for Human Rights, he held positions with UNAIDS based in Geneva and The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He has worked with global health and human rights over two decades and has written extensively on international human rights history and diplomacy. His publications include the multiple prize-winning book The Making of International Human Rights.

Juliet Lodge

Normative Frameworks for Protection of Rights in the Digital Era

Prof Juliet Lodge is a Member of the Privacy and Policy Expert Group of the Biometrics Institute. She is Head of AI Ethics and Societal Issues at Saher EU. She has published widely on the EU, socio-legal and ethical implications of biometrics, ICTs and their impact on citizens and society; EU border management and cross border information exchange and egovernance.

Irina Conovali

Normative Frameworks for Protection of Rights in the Digital Era

Irina Conovali has over 20 years of humanitarian experience with UNHCR in different functions, such as refugee protection, emergency response, data and information management; and primarily in field operations in Africa, Middle East and North Africa and Europe. She has contributed to the development of UNHCR's Global Data Transformation Strategy and is currently spearheading development of norms and standards for UNHCR’s operational data related activities to deliver more predictable, effective and responsible data for protection and operational activities.

David Mariano

Normative Frameworks for Protection of Rights in the Digital Era

Dave Mariano, DRC’s Regional Advocacy Coordinator in Asia, has worked in the humanitarian response and development sectors for the previous 15 years. Prior to his current role based in Dhaka, Bangladesh, he oversaw advocacy, policy, and communications efforts for various international organisations in complex emergency, early recovery, and development contexts, including in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

Tori Samples

Displaced Data? Tackling Digital Financial Inclusion

Tori Samples is the Co-Founder and CTO of Leaf Global Fintech. Leaf is a blockchain-based, digital wallet that provides cross-border financial services—no smartphone required. Initially designed for refugees and cross-border traders, Leaf is live in East Africa and quickly expanding. Tori has a background in technology as a Data Architect and 15 years of personal experience working with resettled refugees in the United States.

Amos Doornbos

Displaced Data? Tackling Digital Financial Inclusion

Amos is currently the Disaster Management Strategy & Systems Director for World Vision International. He is focused on enabling individuals to have more control over and access to their data and wrestling with issues like consent, ethics, and rights. He has been blogging daily for over 1100 days (

Barnaby Willitts-King

Displaced Data? Tackling Digital Financial Inclusion

Barnaby Willitts-King is Research and Insights Director at the GSMA’s Mobile for Humanitarian Innovation programme, leading the team’s research & learning on increasing digital impact through innovation funding and partnerships with mobile network operators and humanitarian agencies. He was previously a researcher on the digital divide and humanitarian system in ODI’s Humanitarian Policy Group.

Mumbi Annstella

Displaced Data? Tackling Digital Financial Inclusion

Mumbi is a mechatronics engineer with over 6 years’ experience working in technology startups and the development sector on the continent. She is currently the Country Growth Manager at Tala, the largest private digital credit provider in Kenya, and serves as an advisor and angel funder to early-stage start-ups in Africa.

Erika Perez Iglesias

Sustainable Business Case for Connectivity

Erika Perez Iglesias works in UNHCR's Innovation Service and leads its Digital Inclusion programme in the Americas, providing support to initiatives aimed at tackling pressing challenges faced by refugees and migrants in the region to ensure meaningful participation in the digital society. Erika leads advocacy activities with key stakeholders in the region, such as regulatory authorities and development agencies, to facilitate the digital inclusion of refugees and migrants and facilitating connectivity through private partnerships and community-based solutions.

Isaac Kwamy

Sustainable Business Case for Connectivity

Isaac is the Senior Manager, Strategic Partnerships & Market Engagement for GSMA Mobile for Humanitarian Innovation Programme. In this role, he is responsible for building the digital ecosystem through strategic partnerships between humanitarian organisations and the private sector (MNOs, FinTech, etc) to promote digitisation of humanitarian assistance through tangible projects/initiatives at the last mile in various geographies.

Josephine Miliza

Sustainable Business Case for Connectivity

Josephine Miliza is a digital inclusion and community networks champion passionate about supporting communities to build resilient and scalable bottom-up connectivity models. She is among the pioneers of the community network movement in Africa and has co-founded TunapandaNET a community network in Kibera, Nairobi Kenya. Josephine serves as Africa regional coordinator for the Association of Progressive Communications-LOCNET project hosted by the Kenya ICT Action Network in Nairobi Kenya.

Robin Miller

Sustainable Business Case for Connectivity

Robin Miller is a Partner based in Johannesburg and leads Dalberg’s Global Data & Digital Practice, which focuses on building initiatives that leverage digital and data to drive inclusive growth. Robin’s day-to-day work includes advising national governments, co-designing solutions with innovators, global tech giants and entrepreneurs, and supporting investors and foundations on the deployment of capital.

Clint Conlin

Leveraging Private Partnerships for Better Data Protection

Working as part of the Microsoft Tech for Social Impact team for the past 3 years, Clint is a Modern Workplace Specialist who partners with enterprise Non-profits & United Nations agencies in EMEA, informing their strategy & roadmap as it relates to Security & Compliance, Unified Communications, Employee Experience and End User Devices.

Dr Michal Kowalik

Leveraging Private Partnerships for Better Data Protection

Michal is a Director of in EMEA & Global Emerging Markets, the dedicated social impact team at Twilio working to provide the world's #1 cloud communication platform to the non-profit, education, and philanthropy sectors. He believes that technology can change the World when applied in a smart and impactful way. Versatile professional with nearly 20 years of experience designing and leading sales and market development strategies in the IT sector based on sound economic principles and comprehensive business analysis.

Ann Kimotho

Leveraging Private Partnerships for Better Data Protection

Regional IT Manager, worked in DRC for 11 years as a Strategic Innovations Leader in managing the digital. Technical enthusiast in the humanitarian sector of East Africa and Great Lakes.

Cyndi Dawes

Human-Centred Design Workshop

Cyndi is a senior strategic designer at Huddle based in Australia. She works across all areas of practice and leverages 25+ years of consulting in organisational change and strategy as well as design. Her work includes supporting development of human centred nation changing strategy for central banks, whole of service reform for a children’s court, finding new ways to deliver mental health services as well as training, coaching and guiding people in learning and applying human centred design.

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