A three days 11th Global Digital Development Conference (ICT4D), kick started on Tuesday at Speke Resort Munyonyo in Kampala, with a call on participants to evolve from big data to responsible data.
The Conference, according to organisers, is aimed at promoting agriculture, digital diversity, health and nutrition, digital literacy, digital financial inclusion, humanitarian response and resilience, supply chain management, and water security plus a special focus on Uganda.
In his opening remarks, Bagiire Vincent Waiswa, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Communication Technology & National Guidance, drew special attention to the Digital Uganda Vision and praised the international development community for using ICT4D for improving the lives of those in need.
“This conference is important and relevant to us as a country as we are getting an opportunity to share knowledge and learn from experts implementing ICT across the country. Over time, we expect to see increased solutions in our daily lives from the use of ICT. The government of Uganda through Uganda Communications Commission is already taking steps towards promoting digitisation across the country. For example, we have established over 1,000 computer laboratories in schools across the country,” he said.
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Humanitarian Response Vice President, Jennifer Poidatz, said: “It’s not enough that we have technological capability at our fingertips. We have to get technology into the hands of local partners and program participants”.
She said marking the focus on practical applications and how technology can empower communities is very important.
Further showing the importance of the conference to Uganda, during the opening plenary session, Peter Batali, Co-Founder & Executive Director of CTEN-Uganda, addressed participants on the refugee response in Uganda.
He highlighted how ICT challenges were overcome in the camps through strengthening existing and forming new strategic partnerships with the Uganda ICT Ministry, tech giants and development actors and the use of holistic advocacy for use of faster/reliable fibre network in refugee hosting areas.
Lauren Woodman, CEO of Net Hope highlighted that most non-profits have digitised their back office processes but haven’t necessarily gone digital yet to empower people to experiment, refine and constantly enhance digital offerings.
She recommended that digital nonprofits start with changing the way people work, through redesigned processes, made possible by technology.
The results from a survey of 600 development professionals conducted by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Devex were shared, with 47 per cent of respondents identifying Asia as having the most rapid growth in ICT4D, with 33 per cent of respondents identifying Africa as a growth region.
When it comes to the democratisation of technology the survey results showed only 24 per cent of organisations identified program participants as primary users of ICT4D, and partners 14 per cent.
“The work to increase these numbers will begin over the coming days in Kampala.
Over the coming two days, ICT and development professionals will hear from scores of speakers on leading technology issues like artificial intelligence, use in agriculture, safeguarding, financial inclusion and more”, he added.