« Netizenship and Evolving Identity | Main | OneCleveland: The View From Inside Business »

July 03, 2005

Live 8, Netizenship and the Role of Technology in Africa

It took less than 60 days to produce Live 8, the world-wide new media rock concert and music experience extravaganza dedicated to making poverty history. Half a billion people around the world used SMS or other text-messaging services to send a message to the leaders of the advanced industrial world. Over a 1000 bloggers issued over 10,000 blog postings issued play by play color commentary and reflection on the event.

For all the ney sayers, the event was a technological marvel. Live streams from 10 concert venues around the world with only minor technical glitches. Great photos, exchanges, and a chance to explore the theme of poverty and its relationship to technology, music, and power.

Bravo to the producers (Bono, Richard Curtis, Sir Bob Geldof, Harvey Goldsmith, John Kennedy, Midge Ure), performers, and the armies of volunteers who contributed to the production. Kudos to the handful of corporations like AOL, BBC, and Nokia who understood the vision and made Live 8 possible.

In 2015 (10 years hence)a global music festival should be planned that originates from Ethiopia, Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guyana, Honduras, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. These 18 nations are among the poorest (and debt-ridden)in the world. They are also among the least wired countries in the world and their citizens among the most disenfranchised netizens in the world.

We will know that the actions of our political leaders, cultural icons, and mass moblizations will have been valuable when our celebrations originate in the heart of the so-called third world and more important when there is enough 21st century infrastructure to support a global broadcast and webcast in which the so-called first world can both view and learn something about these "other" countries through technology-enabled experiences produced by the netizens of countries like Ethiopia.

Getting from here to there is not a matter of wishful thinking and a couple of signatures. Much work lies ahead, but the goal should be to plan a festival of hope and celebration. About six months ago, I had the opportunity to listen to and work with the Minister of Education from the Republic of Ethiopia, the Honorable Gennet Zewdie. Outlined below is a high level proposal for developing and strengthening Ethiopian netizenship and humand development capacity through a project called the E-THIOPIA LEARNING AND TECHNOLOGY EXCHANGE. This is one very small example of the kind of concrete work that can contribute to the capacity building required to develop human talent and hope to make the 2015 festival a reality.

Context: As part of the 2004 Nobel Week, an international symposium on innovation in the public sector was held in Stockholm, Sweden, December 7-11, 2004. More than 200 thought leaders from around the world gathered at the invitation of Cisco Systems’ Internet Business Solutions Group. During the proceedings, and following a compelling presentation by the Ethiopian Minister of Education, a groundswell of support developed among the participants that there was an international moral imperative to mobilize the global technology community and engage with concrete practices to address the profound and growing human devastation associated with poverty in Africa as reported in the 2005 UNICEF report, “Childhood Under Threat”(www.unicef.org/sowc05/english/index.html).

Opportunity Statement: It is the right of every child to be a “netizen”. Netizenship is the human right of accessing, experiencing, engaging, interacting, and understanding the rights and responsibility associated with the global network of connected communities. Together, we will invest our time and talent to support an authenticate form of Ethiopian netizenship providing both a learning network and an infrastructure for the exchange of goods, services, and ideas.

Principles: To the extent possible, the E-THIOPIA LTE should reflect the priorities identified by its netizens. Moreover, the E-THIOPIA LTE should be premised on reciprocity within the exchange and not upon an imposition of technological imperialism or other forms of domination. Building human capacity is THE primary goal of the E-THIOPIA LTE. Preserving the fragile eco-system and engendering a commitment to sustainable growth is a high priority.

Starting point: The realities of the challenge in terms of human capacity building challenges in Ethiopia can not be minimized. According to UNICEF, 82% of the population survives on less than $1 USD/day. About 72 per cent of school-age children have no access to formal education. About 75 per cent of the population suffers from some form of communicable disease. A demographic and Health Survey conducted in 2000 found that 55 per cent of Ethiopian children under the age of five are stunted due to malnutrition. As dire as the situation among the general school-aged population, the situation of young women is significantly more challenging than for young men.

Goals: The E-THIOPIA LTE seeks to create a model to contribute to doubling the GNP/capita from $90 to $180 per capita by 2020. Caloric intake, another goal, will meet the minimum requirement of 1884 calories/day/person (currently at less than 1600) by 2015. Completion rates for primary education will double and secondary schooling will triple. More than 50,000 high school-aged persons will complete certification from E-THIOPIA-LTE by 2010. At least 20,000 young women will complete certification from E-THIOPIA-LTE. The initiative will help to generate 500 small technology companies by the year 2015.

Technical Prerequisites: Phase 1 of the E-THIOPIA LTE scheduled for completion by December 2005 (marked by the next Global Summit on Public Sector Innovation in Stockholm) will provide the following key technology outcomes. 12,000 network ready computers. Cisco will establish 15 Cisco Academies by the end of 2005. The Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Telecommunications and Public Works, and Cisco will arrange to support two-way broadband connectivity to the Academies. Between the Ministers and USAID and other agencies the identified 12,000 computers will need to be shipped to Ethiopia.

Establishing Community Priorities: In conjunction with Phase 1 above, a series of “deep dive” town hall activities should be organized in order to design an authenticate set of community-based priorities. Among other things, the “deep dive” sessions would help to reveal the highest priorities for the E-THIOPIA LTE. We propose a series of possible use scenarios to establish priorities in possible areas like (1) local economic development opportunities for women, (2) sustainable, micro gardening and agri-businesses, (3) community conflict resolution, (3) technology skills set development, (4) public health care and technology, (5) aids prevention, (6) agricultural extension education (7) environmental learning and training. (8) producer to consumer direct coffee exporting. This process should begin in the September 2005 timeframe.

Developing the Exchange: The E-THIOPIA LTE is an eco-system informed by community priorities, enabled by state of the art technology infrastructure, and envisioned to be a “platform” for innovation and transformation across the country. Models for governance, application development strategies, and investment and business case development are all important milestones in the development of the Exchange. The foundation of the Exchange is made possible by investments of time, talent, engineering support, and education and pedagogy by Cisco Systems and the founding partners of the Exchange. This process will be formally known as phase 2 of the Exchange and should be initiated by October 2005.

Developing Human Capacity: The explicit goal of the E-THIOPIA Learning and Technology Exchange is to create measurable advances in developing human capacity building in Ethiopia. E-THIOPIA is conceived of as a model that is scalable and replicable elsewhere around the world.

Next Steps: All Phase 1 requirements must be completed within the next 12 months. By December 2005 letters of commitment, a call for a technology vendor investment round, and expressions of intent from agencies, universities, and governments should be gathered. Planning for the use cases for the “deep dive” sessions should be drafted and discussed at the proposed Ethiopia Summit. The outcome of that Summit should also include scope of work documents, and draft language for governance, application development and business case language that would be refined and then launched in early 2006. Reporting back to the Public Sector Summit in Stockholm should be planned for December 2005.

Posted by lsg8 at July 3, 2005 11:05 AM and tagged Bytes 

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)