ICT has evolved over the years into a critical enabler and facilitator, enabling industries and different sectors of the economy to leapfrog, therefore flourish. Moreover, ICT has become an important stakeholder in breaking down the digital divide, making information easily accessible to many. In order to foster cooperation and partnership amongst different stakeholder in the ICT industry, an ICT summit or conference becomes necessary. This article highlights and explains the importance of events such as the ICT summit/conference in advancing the ICT sector, socio and economic development. Today society is often called a “digital society”, we are talking about the digital data driven era, where technology is being applied in all spheres of life. From augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) in education to breath-taking social applications such as Pokemon Go.
In Namibia the national ICT summit has been running since 2014 under the custodianship of the Ministry of Information, Communication & Technology (MICT). According to MICT, the purpose of the national ICT summit is to bring together diverse stakeholders in the ICT value chain to discuss and share exciting ideas, which will help strengthen and position Namibia as a competitive nation in the region and beyond. Though the purpose is good, it’s important that we start focusing on how ICT can be applied to solve societal challenges at home, thus have a wider impact on communities. Moreover, the summit needs to become more practical, involving activities such as hackathons, which are positioned towards solving contemporary challenges facing communities especially those left behind by the socio-economic development. In a hackathon, participants can leverage on Technology to come up with useful applications that help citizens realise their rights to education, health care and participation in the civic affairs of their countries. Therefore, we need the ICT summit to include this kinds of activities so that it can have tangible outcomes that can help government deliver e-governance.
With the intention of being practical, the 3rd National ICT summit hosted under the theme “Digital Transformation Towards Economic Growth and Prosperity” for the first time had a dedicated youth day, which brought together youth innovators to exhibit their innovations. This was a good start to making the summit more practical, however more still needs to be done to ensure that there are follow up steps in order to further the development of these innovations and get them to market. Moreover, the ICT summit should also from now onwards facilitate the development of e-governance services, which will enable citizens to access government services from anywhere. The National ICT summit should map the roadmap for development and effective integration of technology, as well as set the agenda for growing competitiveness in the ICT sector in Namibia. By bringing the cutting-edge global trends and inviting young innovators, the event should break the barriers, drive innovation and foster higher aspirations at all levels.
It’s important that the national ICT summit doesn’t only set the nation’ agenda on ICT but illustrate real government’s commitment and pledge to ICT by delivering tangible outcomes. Moreover, the summit should seek to explore the role of ICT in creating a more inclusive society for all persons through the development of applications and services based on universal design principles to ensure widespread use and availability of accessible ICT services. Information communication technology has become anchor of our contemporary societies and communities. Moreover, events such as the national ICT summit can play a crucial role in coordinating synergies between stakeholders and fostering ICT innovation culture in Namibia. The ICT summit should also ensure that ICT services in the country are accessible and usable by disabled persons. In conclusion, as our country face what seems to be an inevitable Fitch down grade this December, we should all join hands and look to ICT for sustainable solutions that will create the much needed job opportunities. Therefore, eradicate poverty and help build an inclusive Namibian house.
*Lameck Mbangula Amugongo is country Ambassador of 1 Billion Africa in Namibia. He holds B.IT: Software Engineering, B.Hons: Software Development (Cum Laude) and currently pursuing MSc. Computer Science