IST-Africa Week 2016 (11 - 13 May) was the eleventh in an Annual Conference Series bringing together senior representatives from leading public, private, education & research organisations from 37 countries, to discuss ICT policy, showcase research results and share knowledge.
Supported by the European Commission, African Union Commission, Department of Science and Technology South Africa, Durban Kwazulu-Natal Convention Bureau, eThekwini Municipality and Technically Co-Sponsored by IEEE, IST-Africa 2016 focused on the Role of ICT for Africa's Development and specifically on Applied ICT research in the areas of eHealth, Technology Enhanced Learning and ICT Skills, Digital Libraries, eInfrastructures, eAgriculture, Societal Implications of Technology, International Cooperation, ICT4D and eGovernment. IST-Africa 2016 provided a collegiate setting for presentations and discussions of national & regional developments, issues of concern & good practice models, and networking with peers. IST-Africa 2016 also provided an opportunity to identify potential partners for future proposals under Horizon 2020, including ICT-39-2017.
The Final Programme featured an Opening and Closing Plenary Session and a Scientific Programme with 42 thematically focused sessions featuring over 180 presenters from public, private, education and research organisations in 36 countries.
Over 140 papers were published in the Proceedings following a double blind peer review process. This provides an opportunity for the IST-Africa Community to learn more about the results and follow up with authors irrespective of whether they were able to physically attend the event or not as Proceedings are published via the Paper Repository on IST-Africa portal following the event to ensure availability to the whole community. IST-Africa Paper Repository is the largest repository of double blind peer reviewed research papers focused on cooperation with Africa.
Authors with accepted papers who physically presented results during IST-Africa 2016 also had the opportunity to disseminate their paper in the IST-Africa Proceedings published through IEEE Xplore to reach a wider constituency.
The IST-Africa Workshop on Open Innovation, ICT and Social Entrepreneurship in Africa on 10 May provided a forum to discuss and share perspectives on the current level of Collaborative Open Innovation and ICT-based Entrepreneurship and Social Entrepreneurship in Africa. This interactive workshop focused on (a) identifying the needs of ICT Entrepreneurs and Social Entrepreneurs in different African contexts, (b) identifying opportunities to strengthen support currently provided by Innovation Spaces, the education and research sector and public sector agencies responsible for promoting innovation and entrepreneurship and (c) informing the development of a coordinated multi-stakeholder approach to promoting and supporting Open Innovation, ICT Entrepreneurship and Social Entrepreneurship. There were over 60 participants from 21 countries representing public organisations, Innovation Spaces, Agencies supporting Innovation and Entrepreneurship, SMEs and entrepreneurs.
The workshop was facilitated by Paul Cunningham, IIMC / IST-Africa. It incorporated a number of short presentations, group work and interactive discussions. Morten Møller, presented mechanisms within the H2020 Research and Innovation Programmes that are supporting ICT Innovation. Manuella Abram, GÉANT, UK presented activities ongoing within AfricaConnect to support Open Innovation. Rachel Sibande, Rhodes University, South Africa presented how the Innovation Hub, Malawi is supporting innovation and entrepreneurship in Malawi and Dr Rajesh Neerachand presented how SmartXchange is supporting entrepreneurs in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. Christopher Csikszentmihalyi, M-ITI, Portugal presented a community based radio project in Uganda that is supporting Innovation. Martin Weiss, Senior Technical Officer, MRC-PATH Global Health Innovation Accelerator, South Africa presented how the Medical Research Centre is supporting innovation and entrepreneurship in healthcare.
The Opening Plenary was opened by Mr Daan du Toit, Deputy Director-General, International Cooperation and Resources, Department of Science and Technology, South Africa on behalf of H.E. Naledi Pandor, Minister of Science and Technology, South Africa. This was followed by a speech by H.E. Hlengiwe Buhle Mkhize, Deputy Minister Telecommunication and Postal Services, South Africa. Morten Moller presented Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programmes with a specific focus on results from the ICT-39-2015 Call and opportunities under the ICT-39-2017 Call with a focus on Innovation Actions driven by needs of end-user communities in Sub-Saharan African countries.
Following the formal opening session, the High Level Roundtable brought together senior representatives from the public, private and education and research sectors to discuss factors impacting on the current level of Open Innovation and ICT-based Entrepreneurship and Social Entrepreneurship in Africa. Panelists included:
- Imraan Patel, DST Deputy Director General responsible for ICT, Department of Science and Technology, South Africa
- Dr Gansen Pillay, Deputy Chief Executive Officer: Research and Innovation Support and Advancement, National Research Foundation, South Africa
- Dr Satumo Mohapi, CEO, State Information Technology Agency (SITA), South Africa
- Dr Pascal Hoba, CEO, UbuntuNet Alliance
- Martin Weiss, Senior Technical Officer, MRC-PATH Global Health Innovation Accelerator, South Africa
- Prof. Maurice Mars, Department of TeleHealth, University of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa
- Lee Annamalai, Manager: Earth Observation ICT Systems Group, CSIR, South Africa
This was a very interactive session. The panelists discussed the role and potential contribution of Collaborative Open Innovation in supporting Research and Entrepreneurship in Africa, the impact of the steadily improving eInfrastructure, the perceived impact of Innovation Spaces, perceived benefits and challenges associated with supporting wider adoption of Collaborative Open Innovation and ICT and Social Entrepreneurship in Africa and mechanisms that need to be put in place to encourage greater levels of collaboration by and coordination with different stakeholder groups.
The Scientific Programme incorporated 42 thematically focused sessions featuring over 180 presenters from public, private, education and research organisations in 36 countries across 5 parallel tracks. International Cooperation sessions focused on opportunities under the Horizon 2020 ICT-39-2017 Call, Research capacities and priorities from IST-Africa partner countries and IEEE SIGHT Volunteers activities in Africa. eInfrastructures sessions included a workshop organised by AfricaConnect to showcase the state of the art in Research Networking Infrastructure, lessons learnt from stakeholder engagement and value added services; a workshop organised by MAGIC and paper-based sessions focused on sharing experiences from leveraging research infrastructure in Kenya and South Africa. eGovernment sessions focused on eGovernment services and corporate governance in ICT in Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa. Technology-enhanced learning sessions focused on sharing experiences from using learning management systems, computer-based assessments, machine learning techniques, gamification, mLearning, virtual learning environments, blended learning, MOOCs in Finland, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, South Africa and Tanzania. eHealth sessions focused on sharing experiences and research outputs related to maternal care, under five health care, emergency services, digital health innovation ecosystems, mhealth, biomedical, 3d printing for prosthetics, privacy and security issues related to patient-centric approaches, use of health information systems in Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Finland, Kenya, Malawi and South Africa. Other sessions focused on Digital Content, Mobile Applications, Societal Implications of Technology, Future Internet, ICT4D, eAgriculture and Cyber Security.
In the context of the upcoming ICT-39-2017 Call, the Closing Plenary focused on International Partnership Building for Research and Innovation. Panelists included:
- Mr Daan du Toit, Deputy Director-General, International Cooperation and Resources, Department of Science and Technology, South Africa
- Morten Moller, Senior Advisor to European Commission, Belgium
- Prof. Darelle van Greunen, School of ICT, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa
- Elke Simon-Keller, ITA /SAP, South Africa
It was a very interactive discussion focused around what international partnership building means for different stakeholders in the context of research and innovation, value associated with carrying out cross-border research and innovation, mechanisms to support partnership building, lessons learnt to date and how opportunities provided by African focused Horizon 2020 Calls such as ICT-39-2017 (Innovation Actions) can be maximized.
The conference was formally closed by Mr Daan du Toit, Deputy Director-General, International Cooperation and Resources, Department of Science and Technology, South Africa and Paul Cunningham, IIMC / IST-Africa, Ireland.