By Toneo T Rutsito
Zimbabwe hosted the much anticipated 5th Annual international Conference on ICT for Africa from the 20th to the 23rd of February at Cresta lodge hotel .
The high level delegation converged in Harare for the conference which was officially opened by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara.
Deputy Prime Minister emphatically spoke on the need to create ICT based solutions that helps Africans using relevant home grown solutions. During his keynote address professor Mutambara said “,Lets use technology that affects us in our day to day, business and how we can harness ICTs to improve our economy”
He articulated on the need to use our environment to our own advantage as most developing and poor nations are in need of affordable, life changing technologies.
“Poverty can be a unique opportunity to apply high science, technology is much more applicable here, lets look at sending SMS, poorer people rely on such technologies to communicate while the advent of instant messaging platforms like Whatsapp are changing lives,
Poverty can be a unique opportunity to apply high science, tech is much more applicable here”
Professor Mutambara also castigated some banks who are trying to use the government as a weapon to fight EcoCash and said such attempts will not be tolerated but rather the business community should compete fairly.
The ICT Minister Nelson Chamisa also credited the great mobile and internet penetration to the availability and affordability of technologies which has seen Zimbabwe rise to an all time high of 88 and 34 percent respectively.
This event managed to pull more than 20 regional and international countries representatives coming mainly from the education, industry and government departments.
The much awaited event was run under the theme of “Consolidating Africa`s Competitiveness through Bespoke ICTs”
The International Conference on ICT for Africa is an annual conference that brings together stakeholders of the educational and industrial sectors in Africa, with the aim of reflecting on how to transfer, diffuse and adopt the Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) within the African context;
ICT for Africa conference was initiated and hosted 5 years ago by the International Centre for Information Technology and Development (ICITD) and the ICT University (ICT-U)
The previous conferences were held in Cameroon (2008 and 2011) Nigeria (2011) Uganda 2012)
Among the key speakers were Professor Victor W Mbarik,a,the president of the ICT university and Founder of ICITD, Professor Adekunle O Okunoye of Information Systems at Xavier University, USA and Professor Waswa Balunywa who is the principal of Makerere University in Uganda,
The Zimbabwean team of speakers was also backed by the ICT minister Nelson Chamisa, Permanent Secretary engineer Sam Kundishora, Dr S B Mangena, Professor G Kabanda, Dr G Hapanyengwi, Profesor Masimirembwa and Dr Sindiso Nleya among the others who took turns to push African ICTs to the next level
Some serious group discussions and break away were formed where both the local technology heads and the international representatives took turns to chair and deliberate on bespoke ICTs as a solution to our daily livelihood.
Among the top aspects, there were deliberations on the innovation and development of ICT solutions for and within this context, impacts of ICT on society and of society on ICT, and other relevant normative, empirical, and theoretical concerns of ICT development, implementation, strategy, management and policy that are distinctive to Africa and associated developing economies.
The conference’s objective is to highlight the synergy of collaboration between African countries and other developing countries, and between African countries and the developed countries towards ICT advancements and also towards development solutions for Africa.
It creates a forum where participants can disseminate their research to a wide audience of scholars and practitioners of ICT in Africa and beyond.
The International delegation commended the Zimbabwean government in instituting a ministry specifically for ICTs as it is a sign that the government is committed to the development of ICTs in Zimbabwe.
Thumbs up to the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) for coordinating and pulling such an enormous event putting Zimbabwe right on the technological map.
Mr Sindiso Nleya of NUST universities highlighted the need to foster the growth of African talent and create enabling environments to see the nation attain remarkable GDP via the use of ICTs
Africa has been steadily bridging the technological gap and as seen by the recently held AfricaCom awards, there have been lots significant regional improvements which are putting the African Continent on map