The 10th ICT4D Conference in Lusaka, Zambia, showed that the use of digital technologies in the development and relief sector is expanding. It was common to hear at the remarks about how much the event has grown. With 827 participants from 330+ private sector, public sector, governmental and non-governmental organizations, this was the largest ICT4D Conference ever. There were a record 800+ speaker applications for 2018 (of the final 290+ speakers).
Over three days, ICT and development professionals from 79 countries have heard from scores of speakers on leading tech issues like data security and privacy, artificial intelligence, and mobile money, as well as insights into ICT4D strategy and digital transformation. 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), The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA).
Following the plenary sessions, the audience chose from 12-18 parallel breakout sessions organized into six different tracks (agriculture and environment, health and nutrition, education and livelihoods, digital financial inclusion, humanitarian response, and collaboration and openness in ICT) plus an invitation-only Executive session focused on a digital transformation roadmap.
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.
Michele Broemmelsiek, CRS Vice President for Overseas Operations, shared the results of an international survey on ICT4D which shows connectivity as the top trend and data security as the top concern.
CRS is the Lead Organizing Partner for the 10th ICT4D 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.
This year’s field visit to York Farm with live drone and agricultural equipment demonstrations by CTA, iDrone Services, and John Deere was very popular among the attendees. And the exhibition hall and demonstration stage sessions featured further ICT4D technologies in practice. While a dedicated ICT4D Training Day following the Conference on May 11 provided an opportunity for attendees to better understand how to get more out of ICT4D tools and their successful implementation and application, or how to improve partnerships and the human-centered design.
Further showing the importance of the conference to Zambia, 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.
The conference closed with the announcement that the 11th ICT4D Conference will be held from April 30 to May 2, 2019, in Kampala, Uganda, and a thank-you to the Conference sponsors:
John Deere, SAP Africa, Liquid Telecom, QED Group, Salesforce, Accenture, Chemonics, ESRI, Dimagi, FHI360, Tetra Tech, Vital Wave, Akros