This year’s Telecom World event convened by the ITU and hosted by the Hungarian Government from 9th-12th September in Budapest was one of the most interesting and useful such events in recent years. The Forum programme contained many thought provoking presentations and discussions, and the government’s hospitality was generous, featuring an inspiring musical evening and a drone display over the Danube. There was also a very diverse exhibition, with particularly impressive displays from China about the Digital Silk Road.
The UNESCO Chair in ICT4D was delighted to participate in and contribute to several sessions. In particular, David Banes was a speaker in an important session on Accessibility matters: dismantling the barriers of disability with technology on 12th September. This session noted that technology can enable better access to health, education, government services and the job market for all those affected by disabilities, but also asked what more can be done, in both emerging and developed markets? It explored how existing solutions can be scaled and adapted, and sought to identify whether there is a business case for digital inclusion solutions?
Our Chairholder (Tim Unwin) also moderated two sessions, on Diversity by design: mitigating gender bias in AI and the launch of the ITU-CISCO Digital Transformation Center Initiative, as well as speaking in the Huawei sponsored session on Fixed wireless technology for affordable broadband development. These provided a good opportunity to highlight the work of the UNESCO Chair in ICT4D and also our TEQtogether initiative changing men’s attitudes to women in technology.
It was great to be back in Islamabad to participate in the second two-day workshop organised by the Inter-Islamic Network on Information Technology and COMSATS Institute of Information Technology with the assistance of the UNESCO Chair in ICT4D, and held on 5th and 6th October. It was fascinating to see the progress that has been made in Pakistan since the first such workshop that we convened in January 2016, particularly in terms of policy making, awareness, and entrepreneurial activity. It was also very good to see such a diverse group of participants, including academics, entrepreneurs, civil society activities, government officials, and representatives of bilateral donors engaging in lively discussions throughout both days about how best we can turn rhetoric into reality.
Following the official opening ceremony, there were seven main sessions spread over two days:
The road to facilitation: financial technologies for the marginalised, with a plenary given by Qasif Shahid (FINJA) about making payments frictionless, free and real time.
Addressing the digital gender gap, at which the UNESCO Chair in ICT4D spoke about why this is a pressing concern, and it gave a chance for him to tdiscusst the new UN-led EQUALS initiative for gender equality in a digital age, as well as some of the challenges that face women in using ICTs (slide deck).
No tech to low tech to high tech: an entrepreneur’s tale, with a plenary by Muhammad Nasrulla (CEO INTEGRY).
Serving the most marginalised: accessibility and disability, with a plenary by David Banes on access and inclusion using ICTs, which included a very useful framework for considering digital accessibility issues.
Developing technologies for the rural/urban slum needs, during which Muhammad Mustafa spoke about his vision of enabling all 700 million illiterate adults in the world to go online through his Mauqa Online initiative.
Educating the marginalised, where the UNESCO Chair in ICT4D spoke about educating marginalised children (slide deck) and Shaista Kazmi from Vision 21 described their Speed Literacy Program.
Each session combined enthusiastic discussion around the themes addressed by the plenary speakers, and it was excellent to learn from all those involved about using ICTs in very practical ways to deliver on the needs of poor and marginalised people and communities in Pakistan.
Full details of the event can be found on the INIT site, where copies of the slide decks from each main presentation will also be available. Very many thanks go to all of the organisers, especially Tahir Naeem, Akber Gardezi and Muhammad Atiq from COMSATS IIT and INIT for all of the hard work that they put into making the event a success. We look forward to convening the next such workshop in about a year’s time, once again bringing together people from all backgrounds intent on using ICTs to support Pakistan’s most marginalised communities.
Members of the UNESCO Chair in ICT4D are delighted to be participating in the 2017 WSIS Forum being held in Geneva from 12th-16th June.
We are very pleased to congratulate one of our Honorary Patrons, Hon. Jean Philbert Nsengimana (Minister of Youth and Information and Communication Technology, Rwanda), who was elected Chair of the WSIS Forum 2017.
Sessions in which members of the Chair (including Jean Philbert Nsengimane, Marco Zennaro, Charlotte Smart, Bushra Hassan, and Tim Unwin) are playing an active role as moderators and speakers include:
Action Line C4. Capacity Building: Building Capacity to Leverage eAgriculture Applications (Session 309) (11.00-13.00, Room G2, ITU Varembé)
Innovation in ICT Technologies, Broadband, Smart Cities and Manufacturing for Sustainable Development Goals (Session 310) (Room C1, 11.00-13.00, Thursday 15th June)
Global Partnership for Digital Gender Equality, first Research Group meeting being convened by UNU-CS. The UNESCO Chair in ICT4D is delighted to be one of the founding members of this research group undertaking important research in support of this significant global initiative being led by the ITU and UN Women (Thursday 15th June)
Building ICT innovation capacity (ITU) (Session 324) (14.30-16.15, L2 ITU Montbrillant, Thursday 15th June)
Network for Digital Development – Advancing a Global Action Agenda (World Economic Forum, IEEE) (Session 335) (16.30-18.15, ICT Discovery, ITU Montbrillant, Thursday 15th June)
Reclaiming ICT4D (Session 345) hosted by the UNESCO Chair in ICT4D (11.00-12.45, Popov 1, ITU Tower, Friday 16th June)