THE FU­TURE OF TECH­NOL­OGY, HIGH­LIGHTS AT 10TH ICT4D CON­FER­ENCE

Daily Nation Newspaper - - FEATURES - WITH STAN­LEY MWIINGA

THE 10th ICT4D Con­fer­ence which took place in Lusaka, Zam­bia, from the 8th to the 10th of May 2018 came to end af­ter an in­ten­sive three-day de­lib­er­a­tion on ICT for de­vel­op­ment, data se­cu­rity and the fu­ture of tech­nol­ogy in Zam­bia and the African con­ti­nent. The con­fer­ence at­tracted over 800 par­tic­i­pants from ICT ex­perts and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of re­gional and in­ter­na­tional NGOs, govern­ment min­istries and agencies, UN and donor or­gan­i­sa­tions, aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions, the pri­vate sec­tor and the me­dia.

“The fu­ture of tech­nol­ogy is in Africa,” said Face­book’s Pub­lic Pol­icy Man­ager, Emi­lar Gandhi at the 10th ICT4D, the largest hu­man­i­tar­ian aid and de­vel­op­ment tech­nol­ogy con­fer­ence in the world. This year’s event aimed at map­ping out to the path for tech­nol­ogy to make the max­i­mum im­pact on im­prov­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian re­lief and de­vel­op­ment work.

Over three days, ICT and de­vel­op­ment pro­fes­sion­als from over 80 coun­tries heard from scores of speak­ers on lead­ing tech is­sues like data se­cu­rity and pri­vacy, ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, and mo­bile money. Speak­ers at the ple­nary ses­sions in­cluded lead­ers from Face­book, Catholic Re­lief Ser­vices (CRS), the World Food Pro­gramme (WFP), Gart­ner Ex­ec­u­tive Pro­grams, SAP Africa, NetHope, The Great African Food Com­pany (in col­lab­o­ra­tion with John Deere), Farm Drive, Ra­di­ant.Earth, the Nor­we­gian Refugee Coun­cil (NRC), and The United States Agency for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment (USAID).

Honourable Lawrence Sichalwe, Act­ing Min­is­ter of Trans­port & Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, opened the con­fer­ence on be­half of Zam­bian Pres­i­dent H.E. Edgar Lungu, prais­ing the in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment com­mu­nity for us­ing ICT4D for im­prov­ing the lives of those in need. “New GIS tech­nol­ogy, mon­i­tor­ing mech­a­nisms, and data man­age­ment in­ven­tions are cre­at­ing end­less pos­si­bil­i­ties, gen­er­at­ing sus­tain­able growth and ev­er­last­ing hope for a bliss­ful fu­ture,” said Sichalwe.

“We must go the last mile,” said Michele Broem­melsiek, CRS Vice Pres­i­dent for Over­seas Op­er­a­tions, de­liv­er­ing a call to link tech­nol­ogy to the most iso­lated com­mu­ni­ties. Broem­melsiek also un­veiled the re­sults of an in­ter­na­tional sur­vey on ICT4D which shows con­nec­tiv­ity as the top trend and data se­cu­rity as the top con­cern. It also sug­gested that very in­ex­pen­sive smart­phones would help drive de­vel­op­ment.

Data se­cu­rity was a big theme at the con­fer­ence. “I’m happy that the ICT4D com­mu­nity is tak­ing this is­sue very se­ri­ously,” said Broem­melsiek, Fur­ther showing the im­por­tance of the con­fer­ence to Zam­bia.

A ma­jor in­ter­na­tional sur­vey of the hu­man­i­tar­ian re­lief and de­vel­op­ment sec­tor has tagged con­nec­tiv­ity and ul­tra-low cost smart­phones as the lead­ing trends in in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­ogy for de­vel­op­ment (ICT4D) in 2018.

Data an­a­lyt­ics also scored highly and was closely fol­lowed by geospa­tial anal­y­sis/map­ping.

“I was en­cour­aged by the pop­u­lar­ity of con­nec­tiv­ity and su­per-bud­get smart­phones,” said Michele Broem­melsiek, VicePres­i­dent for Over­seas Op­er­a­tions with Catholic Re­lief Ser­vices (CRS). “This means get­ting the in­ter­net and de­vices with browsers to cur­rently dis­con­nected com­mu­ni­ties who could ben­e­fit hugely from in­for­ma­tion on every­thing from se­vere weather warn­ings to ed­u­ca­tion on health and agri­cul­ture.”

The big­gest con­cern when us­ing ICT4D was in­for­ma­tion se­cu­rity/data pri­vacy, fol­lowed by the re­ten­tion of skilled staff. The lead­ing driver or en­abler of ICT use in the re­lief and de­vel­op­ment sec­tor was seen as the need for eas­ier tools for data col­lec­tion and anal­y­sis in pro­grams.

On Thurs­day after­noon Mu­lenga M. Chisanga, Act­ing Di­rec­tor of the Zam­bia In­for­ma­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Tech­nol­ogy Au­thor­ity (ZICTA) ad­dressed the par­tic­i­pants on the out­look for ICT4D in Zam­bia, point­ing out pos­i­tive ICT im­pact in the ar­eas of health, ed­u­ca­tion and agri­cul­ture.

CRS is the Lead Or­gan­is­ing Part­ner for the 10th con­fer­ence, the first of which it founded in Nairobi in 2010. The Con­fer­ence Strate­gic Part­ners are NetHope and the Nor­we­gian Refugee Coun­cil. The other Con­fer­ence Part­ners are the Tech­ni­cal Cen­tre for Agri­cul­tural and Ru­ral Co­op­er­a­tion (CTA), DAI Global Health, the Dig­i­tal Im­pact Al­liance (DIAL), ICRISAT (Int. Crops Re­search In­sti­tute for the Semi-Arid Trop­ics), iMerit Tech­nol­ogy Ser­vices, the In­ter­na­tional Res­cue Com­mit­tee (IRC), SOS Chil­dren’s Vil­lages, UN Cap­i­tal De­vel­op­ment Fund (UNCDF), UNESCO Chair in ICT4D at Royal Hol­loway Univer­sity, and World Vi­sion In­ter­na­tional. The Key Spon­sors are John Deere and SAP.

The con­fer­ence closed with the an­nounce­ment that the 11th ICT4D Con­fer­ence will be held in April, 2019, in Kam­pala, Uganda.

For more in­for­ma­tion, go to ICT4DCon­fer­ence.org

Me­dia Con­tact: Tom Price tom.price@crs.org

For com­ments and con­tri­bu­tions or if you have a ques­tion or topic you would like us to cover in this col­umn, email me on slick­me­dia6@gmail.com. Text or What­sApp +260977258265.

Mem­bers at the con­fer­ence

Act­ing Min­is­ter of Trans­port & Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Mr Sichalwe

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