THE FUTURE OF TECHNOLOGY, HIGHLIGHTS AT 10TH ICT4D CONFERENCE
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
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Members at the conference
Acting Minister of Transport & Communications Mr Sichalwe