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African Computing and Telecommunications Summit; A Review Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Salisu, Nigeria Sep 23, 2004
Technology   Opinions



I was fascinated by the breath-taking view as we hugged the African coast before flying into the deep blue sea and over Madagascar, before landing at Mauritius. The climate was simly wonderful, especially as I was coming from the hot and humid equatorial belt on which Nigeria is located. The people were friendly and beautiful, and importantly were comfortable in both English and French.

I thought to myself, so this is how most of the world must have looked like before man's destructive prowess was unleashed. The breeze was cool and fresh, the streets well tarred, the drivers considerate. Indeed, it was a beautiful island. No wonder, I could only get a visa for ten days!

I had expected the African Computing and Telecommunications Conference for which I had travelled all the way from Nigeria to attend would hold at the CyberTower as advertised. Rather, it was held at the magnificient Le Meridien Hotel from where you can view beautiful and unspoiled beaches, a marriage of white sand and blue sea.

I never have never attended an ICT conference in such a natural environment, perhaps, an indication that high-tech and nature are not necessarily adversaries, but could, and should be partners in progress as the future of mankind is intertwined in the frenzy of powerful nature and relentless technology.

At the conference were people from all walks of life and from all over the world. It was an informal United Nations where national politics did not overshadow the global vision of peace, equity and a link over the Digital Ocean. For the first time in my life, I was able to talk to Computers and eat lunch with birds (who paid their dues by providing natural music to the cool breeze blowing from the Indian Ocean). Every person needs to be treated to an occasion like that. Then they would understand issues of environmental protection and all the other pressing issues without need for figures and diagrams and at times violent protests from activists.

One thing which struck me; I was supposed to be attending the Sixth African Computing and Telecommunications Summit and yet, majority of the delegates were not African. If issues of digital divide are ever to be addressed, then more Africans need to participate in conferences such as this, where policy issues that would have widespread repercussions are addressed. But that is not to say that I need not meet Africans from all parts of the continent with whom I exchanged fruitful ideas.

I learnt many things, from issues of open and propreitary software, to online enterprenuership, to Vsat technologies, to which African village has just gone online. I learnt about human beings and human capacity. I met people from Presidential Offices and multi-nationals. I met students from across the world. I met representatives of NGO's from Africa, Europe and other parts of the world. I learnt about computing. And I learnt about life.

In so many words, I wish to report that the conference was wonderful and I hope that Africa benefits from the delibrations and brilliant ideas expoused at the Summit.

Salisu Suleiman.

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