Monday, 12 May 2008

Regional Impact of Information Society Technologies in Africa 2008

FARA participated at the IST-Africa 2008 which took place 07 - 09 May 2008 in Windhoek, Namibia. Part of the IST-Africa Initiative, which is supported by the European Commission under the IST Programme of Framework Programme 6 (FP6), IST-Africa 2008 was the third in an Annual Conference Series which brought together delegates from commercial, government & research organisations across Africa and from Europe, to bridge the Digital Divide by sharing knowledge, experience, lessons learnt and good practice.

The FARA-PAEPARD initiative (Platform for African – European Partnership on Agricultural Research for Development) was presented during the session organised by CAAST-Net (Coordination and Advancement of Africa EU Science & Technology Cooperation).

IST-Africa 2008 focused on Applied ICT research topics addressing major societal and economic challenges, which is part of the European Commission's Information Communications Technologies (ICT) programme.

The programme combined strategic keynote presentations, technical and policy papers, case studies, workshops, an exhibition and social activities. See Programme available online and in PDF format.

IST-Africa (Regional Impact of Information Society Technologies in Africa) is a collaborative Initiative between IIMC (Ireland, Coordinator), Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology (Botswana), Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology (Lesotho), Commonwealth Network of Information Technology for Development (Malta), ICT Policy Implementation Technical Unit (Mozambique), Ministry of Education (Namibia), Wits Commercial Enterprise (Pty) Ltd (South Africa), COSTECH - Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology, and Uganda National Council for Science and Technology.

Second Africa ICT Best Practice conference in Ouaga – Closing the gap between words and action 21, 22 and 23rd April

The capital of Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou hosted the second annual “Africa ICT Best Practice Forum” which serves as a practical way for Governments from across Africa to share their own experiences and demonstrate practical examples of successful technology solutions in their respective countries. It attracted a large crowd of Ministers and civil servants from all over Africa and was held in at the same time as Burkina Faso’s national Internet week and the local ICT event SITICI. Attendance at the forum was sponsored by Microsoft, the European Union and the Government of Burkina Faso so it attracted high-level attendees.

Follow-up action on sharing existing and new best ICT practices in Africa will be fostered by the launch of a website with an interactive database to post them to. The site has been built by local IT company Softnet Burkina SA.

Here is an example of a best practice which was presented: (see also CTA-update 2004: LITS: tracking Botswana’s livestock using radio waves)

According to Kedikilwe O. Kedikilwe, coordinator at the Ministry of Agriculture in Botswana, the implementation of Botswana Livestock Identification and Traceback System (LITS) has ensured that the country’s farmers have been able to continue exporting their beef to the European Union. In a country that can count more cattle than people (2.5 million beef cattle against 1.3 millions inhabitants) and exports 90% of its beef to the European Union, the introduction of new, more stringent European regulations covering the origin of the meat entering the European market had to be addressed as it was a clear threat to the country’s income.

Today each animal has a tracking device implanted to provide the required information which is fed into a national database. The implementation of Botswana livestock identification system has not only secured local farmers’ income but also enabled it to reduce the level of cattle theft. And while the UK was struggling to contain a major outbreak of foot and mouth a few years ago, Botswana had the disease under control. So African countries can teach Europe a lesson or two.