I’m a digital policy, innovation and edtech specialist, with particular experience in mobile learning in Africa.
A theme in my career is the innovative use of technology for social impact. In twenty years I have worked in digital policy, child rights, youth and digital media, mobile learning, the development of skills and literacy, and e-government.
I have both on-the-ground implementation experience from a number of developing countries and a global research, strategy and policy perspective.
In fact, purposefully moving between local and global positions, as well as across a range of non-profit organisations, foundations, government, INGOs and the corporate sector, has been my way to develop a broad and rich skill set in technology for social impact.
I believe in people first, technology second. I practice the principles of user-centered design, agile software development and lean innovation (and am a certified product life cycle coach).
My core role is that of a “bridge” between the tech policy and practice worlds: translating digital policy into practice (based on developing and implementing tech solutions) and vice versa (based on advising policymakers on how to regulate tech at the international level). Over the years I have solid experience in digital programme management, partnership management and strategy development.
Currently I’m the digital policy specialist for UNICEF, based in New York. I work at the intersection of children and their digital lives. Key issues I lead on include AI for Children, digital literacy and digital misinformation / disinformation and children.
Previously I was a Senior Project Officer at UNESCO, Paris, managing a partnership with Pearson to examine and highlight how inclusive digital solutions can help people with low skills and low literacy use technology in a way that supports skills development and, ultimately, improves livelihoods.
Before that I was Head of Mobile at Pearson South Africa’ Innovation Lab, established the mobile learning programme at UNESCO, and was Mobile Impact Evangelist for the mLab Southern Africa, an infoDev funded initiative to incubate mobile apps and content services development in the region.
For three years I held a prestigious Shuttleworth Foundation fellowship for 21st century learning and before that was a fellow of the Reuters Digital Vision Program at Stanford University. To see what I’ve been up to over the last few years read my review blog posts or read my CV.
My big idea: A digital world that works for children works best for everyone (read more here).
My mantra: Use the digital technologies in the hands of people to enable their participation. Included here is increasing technology access and opportunities for all.
My strength: Practical experience of using digital technologies to improve the lives of developing country people.
I’ve published papers and given presentations at numerous academic, UN and popular conferences, written for the Mail and Guardian newspaper (South Africa) and used to write a weekly “long reads” post on key issues affecting ICT4D.
I’m a board member of the FunDza Literacy Trust, a South African non-profit organisation dedicated to improving literacy among teens and young adults.
What others say about me:
“Steve is one of those rare people who knows what it takes to bridge not just technological divides but social ones, consistently figuring out not just how to create new tools, but how to get people to use them in meaningful ways.” — Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody and Cognitive Surplus