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Published On: Tue, Oct 21st, 2014

Global ICT community meets in Zapatista (II)

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By Y. Z. Ya’u

There were also private meetings such as those hosted by the Information Service Industry Association of Chinese Taipei, the 8th Assembly of the Mexican Technology Platform, the WISTA Advisory Council meeting and a networking reception with Canadian companies. One presentation that drew large audience and rap attention was by Dr. Robert E. Kahn, co-father of the Internet who spoke on The Evolution of the Internet.

The Gala Dinner and WISTA awards concluded the day. Among the many awards were 2014 Eminent Persons Award to Dr. Robert E. Kahn, co-father of the Internet” and Chairman, CEO and President of the Corporation for National Research initiatives (CNRI). The Chairman’s Award went Telekom Research & Development Sdn. Bhd for the Project: Advanced Internet Lighting Application: A Multifunction Communication System & A Bright Entertainment Device) while the Public Sector Excellence Award went to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Division: Bangladesh Ministry of Posts, Telecommunication and Information Technology. Of significance was also the Private Sector Excellence Award won by President Chain Store Corporation of Taiwan for its igniting a revolution in Taiwan’s convenience retailing industry. Mobile Excellence Award was grabbed by Banglalink Digital Communications of Bangladesh whose subscribership stands at around 30 million people. Of special interest to me was the Digital Opportunity Award won by Nomura Research Institute, Ltd for its Big data analysis/text mining application which has largest market share in Japan. In addition to Japanese, it is also supported for English and Chinese languages.

The last day started with two parallel sessions on the future state of broadband and the Challenges of the Digital Economy. In a way, both sessions are linked, especially for Nigeria where access to broadband is a key challenge to the digital economy of the country. The two following parallel sessions, Open data transparent governance and closing the Global skills gap also spoke about Nigeria’s problems. It is not just that we operate closed data governance; we simply work with no data. As for skills, we have a dysfunctional education system in which critical skills needed by the modern economy, are not the ones being produced.

Instead, it fosters the illusion of the existence of some lucrative courses for which one could suddenly land on a million Naira job. Perhaps the most political of the sessions was on Internet Governance: Rights, Responsibilities, Roles, Trust and Integrity but this meeting could not do justice to the topic. It approached the issue from a technical and professional angle, failing to see the social dynamics and power relations embedded in the discourse of global internet governance.

For most of us, the presence of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) turned out to have an added value. To demonstrate its use of ICTs and therefore justify is participation, the NICM which had been given deadline by the presidency to complete the national civic registration set up a registration desk in the Nigerian stand to register Nigerians living in Mexico as well as other Nigerians who might be attending the congress from other countries.

I understand that our ambassador to Mexico had informed that there was not a single Nigerian living in the state of Jalisco. It turned out also that not a single other Nigeria came from other parts of Mexico or from other countries. That left the space for us, Nigerian Nigerians and since we could not endure the long queue back home we took the opportunity and got registered. So you have it, in the end, some of us have to get registered outside the country. We are now proudly captured Nigerians.

When the organizers fixed the dates of the congress, the independence day of Nigeria was not in their minds. As delegates, I do not think that many of the Nigerians had also thought about the coincidence of the conference with our national independence day. But you can trust Nigerians, master of improvisation.

The presence of the NICM or more aptly the fact that we all got to register, buoyed as into a patriotic mindset and before you know we discovered that we could celebrate our independence day in a foreign land in the midst of a conference. With a speed that is never known in our public service, mobilization was done and on 1st October by 11 am we turned out in our national costumes (for those who had the minds to travel with such dresses) to the Nigerian stand. Nigerian music was procured and here we were singing the national anthem, the pledge and listening to several rounds of patriotic speeches. But more reverting for the non Nigerian audience was the Nigerian music and the various styles that these Nigerians could exhibit. In the end the show stole the day at least while it lasted not just from the conference presentation but also from the exhibition as literarily all turned up at Nigerian stand to see this dramatic display of hips moving and noising music. With the WISTA president himself and the host turning up to present gifts to the Nigerians for the national birth, it was sure that the message was sent. Not that if we were back home, we would have cared to show up at such celebration.

The seemingly large number of Nigerian delegates came from four sources. First, there was the team of the Information Technology (Industry) Association of Nigeria, Nigeria’s affiliate of WISTA.

There was a large delegation from the Nigeria Information Technology Development Agency (NIDTA). The Ministry of Communication Technology whose Minister could be said to be leader of the Nigerian delegation had its contingent and was its Science and Technology counter. And then of course, there was the NIMC.

Y. Z- Ya’u via yzy@citad.org

 

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