The relevance of information communication technologies for rural development (ICT4RD) in Africa will be explored at the 7th Annual SANGONeT “ICTs for Civil Society” Conference from 1-3 November 2011 in Johannesburg. The annual SANGONeT conference is the premier ICT event dedicated to the work of civil society in Southern Africa.
Rural communities account for 67% of the total population in Sub-Saharan Africa and rural poverty in this region is deepening. Rural areas in South Africa share similar characteristics.
The 2011 SANGONeT Conference will bring together 250-300 experts and practitioners - from across Sub-Saharan Africa and beyond - to confront the realities of rural development and explore the innovative use of ICTs to catalyze the growth of ICT4RD solutions for scale in Africa.
The conference will assess the current state of ICT4RD projects, products and policies; create an environment for matchmaking and deep knowledge sharing; and contribute to the successful use of ICT in response to the realities of rural development.
More than 40 speakers and exhibitors will highlight their work and experiences at the conference. Key thematic tracks include agriculture, health, education, governance and financial services.
Many of the projects and tools to be discussed and questions to be answered at the conference are specific to a sector or issue - can smart phones be used to deliver detailed weather and pest information to extension officers? Do young people respond well to health and sexuality issues through an anonymous mobile web forum? Can telecentres provide valuable ICT services to the rural poor AND remain profitable (or at least sustainable)?
Many of the issues to be covered are less easy to classify - for example, agricultural insurance delivered via a mobile phone, based on weather information. And some key factors are cross-cutting - does technology have an impact on gender relations? And the biggest cross-cutting question of them all - do these applications, tools and projects have any impact on the rural development challenges facing Africa today?
“The 2011 SANGONeT Conference will not answer all these questions, but it will map the sector, showcase exciting projects and foster collaborations between people working to improve the lives of the rural poor”, states Matthew de Gale, SANGONeT’s M-Agriculture Programme Manager.
The programme will include many highlights. The World Bank's infoDev programme will launch an online source book on ICTs in agricultural innovations - key projects where ICTs are building the livelihoods of small-scale farmers while increasing food security; Simon Berry from the award-winning organisation, Colalife, will talk about getting lifesaving medicines to just about anywhere - on the back of a beer truck; and Gustav Praekelt from the Praekelt Foundation will talk about scaling mobile solutions in Africa - for social good.
The 2011 SANGONeT Conference is supported by the Department of Communications (DoC), Eskom, Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), Microsoft, Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) and the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA).
More information about the event is available at www.ngopulse.org/ict4rd.
The Southern African NGO Network (SANGONeT) was founded in 1987. Over the past 24 years SANGONeT has developed into a dynamic civil society organisation with a history closely linked to the social and political changes experienced by South Africa during its transition to democracy.
SANGONeT is still one of very few NGOs in Africa involved in the field of information communication technologies (ICTs) and continues to serve civil society with a wide range of ICT products and services. SANGONeT's vision is to be a strategic leadership organisation influencing social transformation through ICTs and its mission is to support the effective use of ICTs in Southern African civil society organisations by providing quality services and initiatives.
For more information about SANGONeT, refer to www.sangonet.org.za
For additional comment or media accreditation, please contact:
David Barnard, Executive Director, SANGONeT
Tel: (011) 403-4935 / E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org