Civil society has its day at the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation Forum 2015


Civil society has its day at the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation Forum 2015
London, 24 August 2015 - The award-winning Mediae Company, Outspan Medical College, Project iMlango and Invest Africa, joined by academicians from Multimedia University of Kenya, Ruhengeri Institute of Applied Sciences in Rwanda and Rongo University, will represent civil society’s importance in delivering the benefits of ICTs for day-to-day existence at the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation Forum 2015. 
The engagement of the third sector will take centre stage on Day Two of the Forum, which highlights the role of connectivity in health, learning and agriculture. They will be joined by multilateral bodies, such as United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, United Nations Population Fund and the Commonwealth of Learning, who will address digital entrepreneurship, investing in youth and skills training.
 
Background 
 
ICTs are both a boon and a bane to the health sector. The Internet combined with data systems bridge distance to enable doctors in less developed countries to seek the expertise of developed economies on complex surgical interventions in real time, or for pregnant women in remote underserved areas to communicate with a doctor instantly via mobile technology. 
 
Among the negatives however, are the risks of EMF radiation and perceptions of health hazards attributed to cell phone usage, particularly among youths.
 
Utilising connectivity for health is one of three parallel sessions organized on 15 September at the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation Forum 2015, and will seek recommendations on ICTs and health in the Commonwealth community of nations. 
 
Moderated by James Kaphale, director of legal services at Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority, the session will also feature a presentation on ICT intervention in innovative education of health professionals by Monicah Masake, head of e-learning at Outspan Medical College, Kenya and one on a community life centre in Zimbabwe by researcher Gertjan van Stam.
 
The cost, inaccessibility and lack of portability of printed medical books are a thing of the past in the age of broadband Internet. Medicine is dynamic and e-learning and other forms of virtual learning make possible pre-service training and continuous training of health workers while on duty. Learning management systems yield a treasure trove of information, e-books, and online libraries.
 
David Campbell, OBE is director of The Mediae Company, which has built the largest radio and TV audiences in East Africa, with content focused on improving people’s understanding of their rights. In a session on Utilising connectivity for learning chaired by Stella Appiah-Nkansah, human resources director at Vodafone Ghana, he will highlight the value of ‘edutainment’ to audiences and broadcasters, as well as the value of local content in building audiences and conveying education through Internet and mobile links. 
 
Erik Childerhouse believes every school, child, teacher and parent has the opportunity to have access to the very best online interactive e-learning content. His role as principal consultant to Avanti Communications consists of delivering this to over 200 rural schools through Project iMlango. He will explain their model of community Internet Wi-Fi hotspots to make high-speed Internet sustainable.
 
The Learning session also features Dr Alison Mead Richardson, Team Leader, Skills, at the Commonwealth of Learning. She will update the audience on the Invest Africa partnership. This initiative works with 13 partners in seven countries to increase access to skills training through the use of technology in flexible and blended approaches with a strong focus on training for women working in the informal sector. 
 
Joining the panel discussion is Professor Robert Jallan’go Akello, lecturer at Multimedia University of Kenya, who will highlight diversity in training of telecommunication engineers. 
 
The third of the parallel sessions is dedicated to Utilising connectivity for agriculture. Professor Daniel Nyamai, lecturer at Rongo University in the Africa Regional Development Centre in Kenya, will advocate for multi-actor innovation platforms for agribusiness value chain models in the African Great Lakes region. He will be followed by Dominique Mvunabandi from the Department of Land Surveying in the Ruhengeri Institute of Applied Sciences in Rwanda, who will present geo-portal mobile applications that are working to warn Rwandan farmers of severe weather.
 
Earlier in the morning, Torbjörn Fredriksson, chief of UNCTAD’s ICT analysis section, will chair a session on digital start-ups and their contribution to the Commonwealth marketplace. The highlight of the morning will be a presentation by Erik Hersman, co-founder of Ushahidi, will deliver a feature presentation on connecting the most marginalized. Ushahidi is a homegrown Kenyan enterprise that provides a free and open source software platform with interactive mapping, multiple data streams and a dynamic timeline for applications such as ‘crowdmapping’, global crisis data, emergency alerts and a rugged Internet.
 
The day ends with a tribute to youth by Siddharth Chatterjee, local representative of the United Nations Population Fund, who will demonstrate how to produce a thriving ICT learning culture. 
 
For more information please contact Osman Siddiqui at o.siddiqui@cto.int
 
About the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation
The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation is the oldest and largest Commonwealth membership organisation in the field of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), and uses its experience and expertise to support members in using ICTs to deliver effective development interventions that enrich, empower, equalise and emancipate people within the Commonwealth and beyond.

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