The IST Africa 2012 Conference started with an opening plenary where the Guest of Honor, Tanzania’s Professor Makame Mbarawa (Minister of Communications, Science, and Technology) kicked off the conference. A round table on the Implementation of the Information Society Track of the 8th Africa-EU Strategic Partnership followed. For more information on the project, check out their website. The aim of the project is to strengthen ICT research and policy links between Africa and Europe. The project builds upon the substantial results obtained and the significant momentum created by several previous projects, designated over the years as the “EuroAfrica ICT Initiative.” The next EuroAfrica ICT Awareness & Training Workshop will be June 13 – 14 in Maseru, Lesotho.
After lunch, iHub Research presented our M-Governance exploratory survey results as the first speaker in the eGovernment stream which was chaired by Isaac Maredi, Director of ICT in South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology.
A reoccurring theme throughout the day was the development of local content.
Professor Nkoma of TCRA stated that challenges in Tanzania include lack of local content as well as last mile connectivity. Our Twitter followers agree that this is an issue not just in Tanzania but also in Kenya, Zambia, and across Africa. The question then arose, “Do people have the skills necessary to develop local content?” The KINU representative (Incubation Hub in Tanzania ) stressed the need for local capacity building in order to spur businesses and local content generation. Catherinerose Barretto (KINU) stated, “We need to foster innovation and creativity from an early age. In addition to mentorship and skills-based training on the job, we also need to teach students to question and think critically.”
It was raised that the East Africa community has already seen the need to come together and create communities to catalyze innovation. iHub together with The KINU, RLabs, and HiveCoLab were mentioned as examples of the local community coming together to build local content.
A challenge was posed by Jussi Hinkkanen (VP, Corporate Relations and Business Environment, Nokia Middle East and Africa) around Innovation Hubs. “We know that Innovation Hubs (like the iHub, KINU, RLabs) work and have created a massive amount of progress. The next big challenge is how do we scale them up? How do we get iHub in every town around Africa? We have to let the innovators to really drive the innovation in Africa.”
Any thoughts from the tech community? What do you think?
Follow what’s going on at IST Africa 2012 (May 9 – 11) in Dar es Salaam at #istafrica2012.