Advisory Council

WiDEF’s work is made possible by this group of exceptional thought leaders who serve as advisors to the fund.

Helani Galpaya

Colombo, Sri Lanka

Helani Galpaya is CEO of LIRNEasia, a pro-poor, pro-market think tank working on digital and other infrastructure policy issues across the emerging Asia Pacific. She conducts multidisciplinary, policy-relevant research and engages in public discourse on issues related to digital access/inclusion, the exercise of human rights on line, labor and work in light of technology and climate change, and the governance of digital platforms, data and algorithms.

Shikoh Gitau

CEO, Qhala
Nairobi, Kenya

Shikoh Gitau is CEO of Qhala, a Nairobi-based feminist tech consulting company focused on catalyzing digital transformation capabilities for organizations across Africa. Shikoh previously served as CIO at SafariCom’s Alphaworks. She has held positions at the African Development Bank Group, Google, Mercy Corps, and Ummeli (gig work platform in South Africa). Shikoh holds a PhD and MSc in Computer Science from the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Aamir Ibrahim

CEO, Jazz
Islamabad, Pakistan

Aamir Ibrahim has been the CEO of Jazz since 2016, Pakistan’s largest telecom and internet company with 75 million subscribers. He is also a member of the Global Executive Committee of VEON (the sixth largest telecom operator in the world). He has held senior leadership positions in VEON, Telenor Group, Ford Motor Company, Jaguar, Land Rover, and Mobilink.

Neema Iyer

Founder, Pollicy
New South Wales, Australia

Neema Iyer is an artist, technologist and coach. She is the founder of Pollicy, an award-winning feminist civic technology collective based in Kampala, Uganda and serves on Meta’s Global Women’s Safety Advisory Board. She was also recently a Practitioner Fellow at Stanford’s Digital Civil Society Lab and Senior Fellow in Trustworthy AI at Mozilla Foundation. She currently leads the design of a number of projects focused on data governance and digital security, and on innovating around technology policy.

Osama Manzar

Co-Founder, Digital Empowerment Foundation
Puducherry, India

Osama Manzar works at the cusp of Rights, Access and Meaningful Content. After half a decade of stint in tech journalism, he founded Digital Empowerment Foundation in 2002. Osama is a Senior Ashoka Fellow, British Chevening Scholar, International Visitors Leadership Program Fellow of US State Department.  He has been on the boards and advisories of APC, World Summit Award, GNI, Barefoot College, Protsahan, and MISSING.

Camilo Téllez

Deputy Managing Director, Better than Cash Alliance
London, UK

Camilo Téllez is the Deputy Managing Director for the Better than Cash Alliance, a UN-based partnership of over 80 governments, companies and international organizations that accelerates the global transition from cash to digital payments in order to drive inclusive growth and reduce poverty. Prior to joining the Alliance, he worked at CGAP and the World Bank in Washington, and the GSM Association.

Dorothy Okello

Dean, Makerere Univ School of Engineering
Kampala, Uganda

Eng. Dr. Dorothy Okello is Dean, School of Engineering, and Associate Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT), Makerere University. Within the department, she is a Researcher with netLabs!UG, a research center whose model is to strive for a balanced critical mass of research, innovation and commercialisation in communications and networking. Dorothy is a Fellow of the Uganda National Academy of Sciences (FUNAS). She has received national and international awards, including recipient of Uganda’s Distinguished Medal of the Crested Crane on Women’s Day 2023 presided over by H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of Uganda.

Araba Sey

Deputy Director, Research ICT Africa
Seattle, USA

Araba Sey is Deputy Director at Research ICT Africa; Principal Research Scientist at the University of Washington. Her research examines the link between digital and social inequalities, and the potential to advance human development through inclusive design. She has authored or co-authored multiple books, journal articles and policy papers on the impacts of digital technologies on socio-economic development and gender equality.

Karen Smit

Head of Specific Needs/Accessibility, Vodacom
Johannesburg, South Africa

Karen brings more than 25 years of experience within the ICT industry, advocating for the inclusion of consumers with disabilities which has established her as a global industry expert in promoting accessibility. She is passionate about influencing technology ecosystems to embrace digital inclusion to ensure persons with disabilities are not left behind and become part of a connected digital society. Karen obtained her Ph.D. in Disability Studies from the University of Cape Town in 2021.

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