Stammtisch #4 – aftermath

Yesterday’s 4th ICT4D.at Stammtisch was quite nice again, had a good time with interesting discussions. People that participated – except me:

Next Stammtisch will take place at 11 March at Cafe Benno again, hope to see more of you there then 😉

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Stammtisch #4 – aftermath
was published on 12.02.2010 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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Africa Gathering London – Aftermath

This weekend the second Africa Gathering in London – with the tagline “sharing ideas about positive change” – took place and I was there, representing ICT4D.at, taking notes of the presentations and shooting some blurry photos.

The event was – again – really great with presentations from different sectors and speakers with extremely diverse backgrounds. It was split in two parts with Friday as networking event with fewer attendees and Saturday with a bigger audience – although the format of the presentations of the two days didn’t differ very much.

My personal highlights of Friday were Leon Benjamin’s presentation advertising different – collaborative and self-organized – ways of organizing work, and Bill Liao’s musings on humanity – leading to such diverse things as “thrivability” and the planting of trees to save the planet. The underlying theme of both presentations was that “it” can’t go on that way – may “it” be the current “command and control” structure of society and organizations, or the destruction of the planet. The presenters showed ways how to improve the situation – and both incorporated more collaboration and leaving the current hierarchical system structure.

On Saturday, amongst other presentations there were two moving personal stories of people who now engage themselves fully in helping disadvantaged children. Kevin “Banana Man” Alan, a former martial arts trainer from Liverpool who was moved by a TV documentary in a way that he almost suddenly changed his life to dedicate all he had to helping children in Zulu Land, South Africa. His charity Banana Appeal plants fruit trees to feed the poor children and supports them to be able to go to school. The second personal story was rapper Emmanuel Jal, a former child soldier in Sudan who was smuggled out of the country by an aid worker and deals with his past by writing lyrics and making music. He also formed a charity – GUA Africa – which works with families affected by war – helping the children to receive education. Two other very interesting presentations from Saturday were one about CreditSMS – now FrontlinsSMS Credit – trying to provide banking services to as many people as possible via sms (basing on FrontlineSMS), and one about Africa Rural Connect, a platform where ideas how to improve Africa’s agriculture are shared, rated and experience is exchanged.

I would like to mention another Africa Gathering participant here which didn’t have a presentation but showcased a prototype – Simon Berry of Colalife. He is campaigning to persuade Coca Cola to open its distibution channel in developing countries, allowing the delivery of “social goods” such as medication through this channel. I really like the idea and think it’s absolutely worth supporting. He presented at the first Africa Gathering earlier this year.

All in all I am happy to have attended Africa Gathering once more, there were a lot of interesting people around with a strong desire to change the current way of things. The location – The Hub close to King’s Cross – was very nice and there was enough time to socialize and get to know each other. The mix of presentations was interesting and inspiring, thanks Ed Scotcher and team for organizing the whole event.

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Africa Gathering London – Aftermath
was published on 12.10.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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Coop 2.0 Gijon – Aftermath

Now that Cooperation 2.0 in Gijon is over for already a week, we would like to share some thoughts and impressions from the event.

The overall guiding theme of Coop 2.0 was “Innovation on ICT for Development Cooperation” and this theme was present in almost every talk and round table. Already in the entry speech of Nadjat Rochdi from UNDP, the need for innovation was accentuated. And adverse to invention (having new ideas) she defindes innovation as “appyling ideas in a new way“. Furthermore she called for collective action of all stakeholders – governments, NGOs, private sector.

The projects and organizations presented in the following days mostly conformed to these ideas, showing interessting concepts on how to use existing technology for social and economic improvement, or how to reshape development cooperation to let everybody contribute.

On the technology side there were for example

What these three presentations showed was that the right technology in the right situation has huge potential. But, as Kentaro Toayama pointed out Рnot for every problem, there is a technological solution which makes sense. St̩phane Boyera presented mobile phones as the most powerful device in ICT4D currently Рchanging lifestyles of people all around the world and empowering the poor to act as contibutors instead only as consumers. But he also mentioned the shortcomings of mobile phones and the need for an inclusive approach, integrating other technology already in place.

On the “reshaping development cooperation” side there were for example

The statements in these presentations were supporting an increased integration of the southern countries in the process of bridging the digital divide. Furthermore the need for urgent cooperative actions was underlined. As Vikas Nath put it – networked cooperation is a must – institutions have to learn to integrate themselves in bigger networks.

In the discussion panels it was often claimed that in ICT4D, development needs to be in focus, not technology – but in my opinion most contributors at Coop 2.0 seemed to have understood that. What they shared was the enthusiasm about ICTs – as Oleg Petrov put it – one of the most powerful tools in human history.

Coop 2.0 was therefore in my understanding a highly valuable event for the international ICT4D and general development cooperation community to meet, network and share experiences and best practices. It was inspiring to hear of innovative projects using ICTs on the one hand, but also of attempts to achieve increased networking in development cooperation – where ICTs naturally can contribute substantially.

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Coop 2.0 Gijon – Aftermath
was published on 19.02.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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