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Global ICT experts meet in Kenya to further skill development

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- More than 500 government, business and academic and ICT experts kicked off a four-day meeting in Nairobi on Tuesday to improve digital skills as well as formulate and optimize human capacity building strategies for the ICT sector.

Organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the UN specialized agency for ICTs, and hosted by the Communications Authority of Kenya, the global ICT Capacity Building Symposium (CBS-2016) provides an opportunity for stakeholders from across the world to discuss trends and developments in the sector and their implications for human and institutional capacity building.

ITU Secretary-General Zhao Houlin told the forum that the meeting will develop strategies to accelerate progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at a time of major digital technology transformation.

“This symposium brings together key ICT and education stakeholders to discuss how emerging technologies are changing the human capacity building environment. ITU is committed to helping all its members effectively and rapidly build human ICT capacity and improve ICT skills,” Zhao said.

He called for a cross sectorial collaboration and partnerships in prioritizing ICT programs. “ITU is committed to connecting the world, bridging the digital divide and spreading emerging technologies,” Zhao said.

The ITU chief appealed to ministries concerned with ICT and education to mainstream ICT in all sectors of the economy worldwide to improve skills and create a level playing field in technological innovation.

The ITU symposium called for speedy ICT connectivity to bridge the digital and knowledge divide in the world, noting that growth of the global economy depended on the rate of ICT connectivity.

Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto, who officially opened the symposium, said there was need to put in place structures to accelerate connectivity to mitigate the glaring ICT divide both within countries and between countries.

“We need partnerships that enable the rural poor to get their first online experience. A farmer in rural Kenya has as much as benefit from ICT like his or her counterpart in the Canadian prairies,” Ruto said.

He said promptness and affordability is critical and appealed to industry players to quickly work towards affordable prices, higher speeds, high capacity Internet to achieve the desired results.

Ruto said access to electricity was critical in this effort, saying Kenya had made remarkable strides in connecting people to electricity with 6.7 million households connected to the national grid in the last three years.

He said ICT is expected to contribute at least 8 percent of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) this financial year.

“In finance, health, education, agriculture and Governance, ICT has become the platform to rate service delivery, on demand dissemination of information and effective customer service,” he added.

“An economy based on ICT and internet is a powerful catalyst for innovation, growth and social prosperity... promoting a more sustainable and inclusive growth focused on well being and equality of opportunities,” said Ruto.

Kenya’s ICT Cabinet Secretary Joseph Mucheru said in an effort to mainstream ICT in government services, the government had recruited 400 new management trainees who were under training to add on the 100 trained last year.

“These officers will be absorbed in government to spearhead ICT programs in various ministries. Emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) are increasingly becoming a reality,” Mucheru said.

He said governments, industry, universities and other higher education institutions need to invest in a range of ICT skills at various levels, to not only enable increased participation in the economy, but also ensure the creation of digital citizens for a digital society.

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