Wednesday, March 25, 2009

IST-Africa goes to Uganda

Based on priorities identified by the current African partners, Uganda has been slated to host this year’s Regional Impact of Information Society Technologies in Africa project “IST-Africa” under the 2008 – 2009 project.

The project being funded as a Specific Support Action by the European Commission under the ICT Programme of Framework Programme 7 (FP7) is to focus on a limited number of complementary activities that over time will facilitate wider impact of applied ICT across the sub-Saharan Africa.

Disclosing this, the Project Director at the Commonwealth Network of Information Technology for Development, (COMNET-IT) Malta, Ms Yasmeen Ariff, noted that the conference which is two-phased were mapped out to hold in Windhoek, Namibia, which held last May, while this year’s edition will be hosted in Kampala, Uganda in the forthcoming May between 6 and 8.

She gave insight into the three primary activities to be carried out during 2008 – 2009, including promotion of research cooperation between European and African organisations under FP7-ICT, and to promote the inclusion of African partners in proposals to address some challenges, comprising “Pervasive and Trusted Network and Service Infrastructures, Digital Libraries and Content, Towards sustainable and personalised healthcare, ICT for Mobility, Environmental Sustainability and Energy Efficiency, ICT for Independent Living and Inclusion and Research Infrastructures (Capacities Programme).”

The two phased workshops are expected to deliver 14 FP7 training in IST-Africa partner countries to raise awareness of opportunities to participate in the FP7 ICT research theme, provide insight into open calls, and provide necessary follow-up support and mentoring to high potential organizations.

COMNET-IT, she said, is a foundation set up by the Commonwealth Secretariat in conjunction with the Governments of Malta and India to promote ICT collaboration and technology transfer between Commonwealth member states.

“Its specific role in IST Africa is to promote collaboration in European FP7 projects between African and relevant European institutions,” she explained.
Emphasizing that the main objectives of the initiative are among others to establish a better understanding of extant Applied ICT base in Africa and opportunities for adaptation and implementation of European developments; fund ICT research and promote collaboration between African and European institutions, establish a collaboration framework for researchers and government institutions in European and African States and, promote partnerships between African and European research institutions in FP7-ICT projects.

Additionally, she said, the programme is a collaborative initiative between IIMC (International Information Management Corporation Ltd - Ireland, Coordinator), Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology (Botswana), Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology (Lesotho), COMNET-IT, 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.

She outlined that the ICT research and development opportunities within the EU’s current Science and Technology Framework programme (FP7), would afford participation of African institutions in the programme to achieve some mileage.

“Participation of African institutions may go some way to improving access to ICT applications and information which would in turn greatly benefit economic and social development in communities,” she said.

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