Smart Africa at ITU Telecom World 2014 in Doha

Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan and Rwanda came together within the Smart Africa zone on the show floor at the just concluded ITU Telecom World 2014 in Doha, Qatar.
smart_africaThe event closed on Wednesday after four busy days of high-level debate, networking, knowledge sharing and showcasing. It was hosted by the Government of Qatar, with the support of leading international communications company, Ooredoo. Some 205 speakers from 52 countries contributed to the discussions in Doha and extended around the world with 2400 tweets from 841 contributors with a reach of over 8 million people.

It included a dynamic and truly diverse line-up of participants from around the world attended the event, including Cisco, Huawei, Intel, LS telcom, Nokia, Ooredoo, Rohde & Schwarz, Vodafone and ZTE. The show floor also featured Pavivilions from Argentina, Azerbaijan, Cameroon, Chad, China, Hungary, Nigeria, Malaysia, Qatar, Tanzania, Thailand and Zimbabwe.

Following the end of the event, ITU released a statement in which it’s Secretary-General Hamadoun I. Touré said, “Over the last few days I’ve seen the evolution of a roadmap that provides an immersive, interactive and deeply informative view of the future of ICTs.”

He added that, “This has been evident in the Leadership Summit and Forum, bringing insights into industry shifts and macro trends from top names on the show floor and looking at new technologies developing in The Lab. I was also deeply impressed by the bright sparks who are building the future of technology and business, in the Young Innovators Programme.”

The showfloor was the central space at ITU Telecom World 2014, bringing together exhibitors, investors, projects and decision-makers.

The Smart Africa pavillion (represented by Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan and Rwanda) highlighted the Smart Africa initiative focusing on making Internet access affordable to all African citizens and the role of the private sector in ICT development partnerships.

Current partners of the Smart Africa initiative include Burkina Faso, Gabon, Kenya, Mali, Rwanda, Senegal, South Sudan, Tchad, Uganda, as well as GSMA, AU Commission, NEPAD Agency, UNECA, AfDB, the World Bank and ITU.

The SMART Africa manifesto, which is at the heart of the ICT agenda in Africa was endorsed by all Heads of State and Government of the African union at the 22nd Ordinary session of the Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa.

Each member country committed to developing and implementing Smart Country programs with clear targets and milestones which will be strongly aligned with the Smart Africa Manifesto pillars: Policy, Access, E-government, Private sector/Entrepreneurship and Sustainable development.

International and private sector members committed to support financially, in kind, technically or otherwise to ensure the realization of the vision, programs and activities of Smart Africa.

Other African countries at the event’s show floor included Tanzania that shone a spotlight on its global ICT sector. Its National ICT Broadband Backbone project has seen Tanzania evolve into a regional ICT hub, providing vital telecoms infrastructure to eight neighbouring countries.

First time participant, Chad took the occasion to showcase its major ICT projects, such as the African Centre of Information technologies (CATI).

Nigeria also showcased its ICT achievements during the event, under the theme Broadband Nigeria: Enabling Access, Transforming Communities.

Other thematic pavilions at the event showcased latest innovations in ICTs to address specific issues related to emergency telecommunication in Saving Lives and Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The Government of Qatar also highlighted ICT development.

The event also saw the launch of the Global Cybersecurity Index 2014. A joint project undertaken by ABI Research and ITU, the GCI provides insights into cybersecurity engagement in countries.

Networking was a key component of the event, with delegates from public and private sectors using the Event App to actively network with other participants and share their experiences.

Forum discussions at the event covered the key trends and developments in technology, regulatory and policy issues, business models, services and applications – focusing on three major scenarios of disruption, cross-sector partnerships and the intelligent future.

Sessions took a variety of different formats from top-media moderated Big Conversations to Ministerial round tables and panels.

According to the ITU statement, the underlying focus of discussions was around the radical transformation of the ICT industry, and hot topics included the different uses for Big Data, including ‘Big Data for development’, ‘Mobile networks in the cloud’, the ‘softwarization of network elements’, ‘bringing IT into ICT’, cross-sector partnerships, collaboration and cooperation and broadband rollout in emerging markets.

Discussions convened a unique mix of informed speakers from the worlds of government, industry, academia, research, and international organizations, with audience members encouraged to join in, share their insights and experience and quiz the panels on their views.

Leading players showcased new developments. Nokia Networks, Ooredoo Qatar and China Mobile chose the global platform offered by ITU Telecom World 2014 to achieve a record-breaking speed of 4.1 Gbps over TDD-FDD LTE, in an experiment to demonstrate future user demand. Vodafone unveiled Qatar’s first virtual store experience.

The event showcased sponsored sessions from Alcatel-Lucent, BBC, CNN, ESOA, Geddes Consulting, Huawei, IPv6 Forum, ITU-D, Nokia, TDIA, TCCA, and tm-forum, and covered a range of different areas from ‘Big Data to universal broadband’, ‘enabling the digital future’, ‘hidden risks’, ‘unexplored opportunities from circuits to packets’, ‘LTE for public safety’, ‘ICTs for saving lives’, and more.

Examples of innovation in action were also seen in the Lab on the show floor, including MineKafon, a wind-powered mine detector; Perpetual plastic, an interactive recycling installation that transforms plastic into new products through 3D printing; Parametric Wall, a responsive surface able to re-model its own shape; and Boreal, an open source interface that can be used to control all types of hardware and software. Also in the Lab was the humanoid Roboy, who presented a new face to human robotic interaction and delighted participants from across the globe with his ability to interact and move, his anthromorphic, tendon driven arm, as well as his charming blushes, winks and waves.