Summit in Namibia to focus on advantages of ICT for rural communities
The UNESCO Office in Windhoek and the Ounongo Technology Centre are organizing a two-day summit in Gobabis, Namibia, from 22 to 23 September 2009. 'Information and Communication Technology: The Oxygen for Democracy and Service Delivery' is the theme of the event, which will look at the opportunities offered by ICT to rural Namibia.
International, regional and local participants from diverse background, such as governor offices, farmers unions, women and youth leagues, will attend the event to synchronise local community programmes with national development policies and strategies. The summit is organized in partnership with the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), the National Youth Council of Namibia, the Pupkewitz Foundation, the Namibian Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, and the Namibian Ministry for Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture.
According to the Third National Development Plan of Namibia, information and communication technologies (ICT) can contribute to 'knowledge-based economy and technology-driven nation'. ICT can respond to a number of challenges faced by rural communities related to access to technology, economic growth and educational opportunities. In major Namibian towns mobile telephony has rapidly expanded and the number of Internet subscriptions increased. However, rural areas still lack adequate access to both the mobile phone network and the Internet.
The summit in Gobabis will look at the challenges and opportunities of ICT in rural Namibia, with particular focus on:
- access to information and knowledge,
- cultural diversity and identity,
- linguistic diversity and local content, and
These thematic areas take into account ethical, legal and socio-cultural dimensions of the information society. They are highlighted in the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Action Plan as important elements that can help grasp the opportunities offered by ICT by focusing on the individual.
The summit will also look at the specific challenges that young people and women face in rural areas: weaknesses of technological infrastructure, language barriers, lack of appropriate content and applications in local languages.
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