Over 480 participants from 46 countries participated in IST-Africa 2012, 09 - 11 May, Dar es Salaam

Hosted by the Government of Tanzania through the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH), Supported by the European Commission and African Union Commission and Technical Co-Sponsored by IEEE, IST-Africa 2012 took place from 09 - 11 May 2012 in Dar es Salaam.

Part of the IST-Africa Initiative, which is supported by the European Commission under the ICT Theme of Framework Programme 7 (FP7), IST-Africa 2012 was the seventh in an Annual Conference Series which brings together senior representatives from leading commercial, government & research organisations across Africa and from Europe, to bridge the Digital Divide by sharing knowledge, experience, lessons learnt and good practice and discussing policy related issues.

The IST-Africa Initiative Supports Implementation of 8th Africa-EU Strategic Partnership (Science, Information Society, Space), Skills Transfer and Knowledge Sharing to Support Research Capacity Building & STI (Science, Technology and Innovation) Development in Africa and Community Building to support International Research Cooperation.

The primary objectives of the IST-Africa 2012 Conference and Exhibition was to showcase National Innovation in the Host Country, propose and discuss potential solutions to Bridge the Digital Divide and share knowledge, experience, lessons learnt and good practices as well as discussing policy issues related to Information Society and ICT. IST-Africa 2012 featured over 180 presentations from government, industry and research organizations in 39 countries. Over 480 participants from 46 countries (21 European Member States, 22 African Member States, Australia, Canada and US) actively participated over the four days.

On Tuesday 08 May, the Joint Expert Group Meeting for the 8th Africa - EU Strategic Partnership (Science, Information Society, Space) hosted in association with the 7th Annual IST-Africa Conference & Exhibition was formally opened by Hon. January Makamba, Deputy Minister, MCST. This was followed by a full day BRAGMA Workshop on GMES and Africa, a key priority of the Space Track, and a full day IST-Africa Living Labs Working Group Meeting, focused on one of the key priorities of the Information Society Track under the 2nd Action Plan of the 8th Strategic Partnership adopted at the 3rd Africa EU Summit, which took place on 29 - 30 November 2010, in Tripoli, Libya.

These parallel Space and Information Society Tracks provided important opportunities for key stakeholders from Tanzania, the rest of Africa and Europe to bring themselves up to speed with the latest developments with these key thematic priorities. Equally importantly, they provided important public platforms to contribute insight, experiences and different yet complementary perspectives, and identify expertise and additional key stakeholders whose active engagement is necessary to the continued implementation and achievement of these two key 8th Strategic Partnership priorities.

On Wednesday 09 May, the Opening Plenary consisted of short presentations from Hassan Mshinda, Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology, Tanzania; Kostas Glinos, European Commission, Belgium; Enrico Strampelli, European Delegation, Tanzania; Ambassador Sinikka Antila, Embassy of Finland, Tanzania; Moctar Yedaly, African Union Commission, Ethiopia to provide an overview from a policy perspective. Honourable Prof Makame Mbarawa, Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, Tanzania then formally opened IST-Africa 2012.

The High Level Round Table Discussion during the Opening Plenary provided the opportunity to hear wide range of perspectives (from African Union Commission, European Commission, African and European Member States and other stakeholders including industry and the National Regulator) on issues related to progress to date with the Information Society Track of the 8th Africa - EU Strategic Partnership. This was a very rich and stimulating dialogue, which challenged all IST-Africa Community Members to actively engage with their peers from Africa and Europe to collaborate in leveraging Information Society and ICT to achieve sustainable socio-economic development across the Continent of Africa.

From Wednesday afternoon to Friday lunchtime, this year's Scientific Programme featured six parallel tracks and over 180 papers and presentations, showcasing innovation, lessons learnt, applications and case studies from 39 countries around the world. Key thematic areas addressed included ICTs of high societal impact across Africa, including eInfrastructures, eGovernment, eHealth, eSkills and Technology Enhanced Learning. JEG8 discussions continued on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning, with active engagement from all stakeholders during these sessions.

The Closing Plenary included presentations on International Cooperation with Africa & Horizon 2020 by Fadila Boughanemi, European Commission, Belgium; African Internet Exchange System (AXIS) by Moses Bayingana, African Union Commission, Ethiopia; African Leadership in ICT (ALICT) by Jerome Morrissey, GESCI, Kenya; TANZICT Programme by Kristiina Lahde, TanzICT Programme, Tanzania; World Bank Initiatives and Entrepreneurship and ICT Incubation by George Mulamula, DTBi, Tanzania.

Dr Florens Turuku, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology formally closed IST-Africa 2012 thanking IIMC, the IST-Africa Coordinator, COSTECH, the European Commission, African Union Commission, Support Organisations (TANZICT, NOKIA and Uhuraone), presenters and delegates from their active participation. He reiterated the challenge presented by Hon. January Makamba, Deputy Minister, MCST on Tuesday to actively contribute to the continued socio-economic development of Tanzania and Africa in general. Having had the opportunity to build relationships with Tanzanian national research community face to face, he encouraged participants to actively involve Tanzanian and other researchers from across Africa in multi-lateral and bilateral collaborative research.

The full conference report is available for download