The level of interest in using technology solutions to address critical development challenges is getting high in Africa. At the same time, there is an essential need to accelerate the penetration and application of technology on the continent, particularly at the public sector level.
Feedback received from various government leaders and international financial institutions on the continent clearly shows that the best way to achieve this objective is to provide the conditions necessary for African governments and advisory institutions to share their own best practices, subsequently creating a roadmap for the future.
In this way, African leaders and the institutions that support them can actively assist in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of public sector institutions through the use of technology and create the capacity for Africa to increase its own competitiveness.
Any institution that provides leadership on this issue would simultaneously achieve a high impact outcome for Africa’s development and an opportunity to distinguish itself from the crowd.
ICT Best Practices Forum
The African ICT Best Practices Forums serve as a practical way for high level officials from across Africa to share their own specific experiences and demonstrate practical examples of successful technology solutions in their respective countries. They also allow for such solutions to be more easily replicated, particularly given the skills shortfall in the region.
Additionally, best practice solutions will be showcased on a new Pan Africa best practices website, undertaken by Microsoft and the Government of Burkina Faso. This website is used to highlight examples discussed at the forums, as well as other ICT4D best practices, hence enabling ongoing peer-to-peer connections and advisory discussions.
The IFC has demonstrated that if all of the IT innovations of various African countries were to be integrated into one single country, it would be the 12th most advanced country in the world with respect to the use of technology. Given this, African nations stand to benefit from successful practices incorporated throughout the region, as well as from other emerging market regions.
The First ICT Best Practices Forum – 2007
The first ICT Best Practices Forum, held in Burkina Faso in June 2007, drew over 350 delegates from across West and Central Africa. The forum was attended by representatives from government, the private sector, civil society (including NGOs and academia), the press, and international financial and government institutions, including more than 120 high level government officials, 3 heads of state and more than 40 ministers of government.
The delegates met in Burkina Faso to discuss strategies and practical solutions that would improve the efficiency and effectiveness of public sector institutions, through the use of information and communications technologies.
More than 20 speakers were given the opportunity to present projects and case studies implemented by their various organisations. In addition to this, a number of organisations made use of the opportunity to showcase their top projects and offerings at the various exhibition stands. Exhibitors and presenters were therefore given the opportunity to increase awareness of the products and services available and create mindshare among the various organisations represented.
In the interest of Best Practice sharing, networking opportunities between the delegates were encouraged and facilitated through our online registration system, enabling those who would wish to organise side meetings to do so in advance, in order to maximise the outcome of their participation.
The Pan African Interactive ICT Best Practice website currently under construction will include all the Best Practice submissions from the series of events, thereby serving as a reference tool for African ICT practitioners.
Some feedback from our customers and stakeholders:
- “We should institutionalize this forum for the good of Africa. Well done partners.” (Nigerian delegate)
- “The opportunities for networking were even more important than the presentations.”
- “Everything Microsoft seemed to do at this event was outstanding and well organized.” (World Bank representative
- “Excellent organization – please continue the good work.”
- “I would not normally have thought of Microsoft as knowing the best things to do in e-government, so I have to give you my congratulations for this initiative which everyone would like to see happen longer/again”
The Second ICT Best Practices Forum
Because of the extremely positive feedback received from delegates, we have decided once again to hold the event in Burkina Faso, in April 2008.
This Forum is an initiative of Microsoft, organised in partnership with the Government of Burkina Faso with support from the European Union.
This year we will continue with our overarching theme of e-government while showcasing all new examples of the most innovative projects implemented in the public sector from across Africa, as well as in other emerging market regions. The event, which is now Pan African, will therefore present an impressive display of the novel uses of technology from the African continent and beyond.
The Forum presents a unique opportunity for private sector representatives to meet with top representatives of government, donor organisations, civil society and international governmental organisations in an environment that encourages one-on-one communication, allowing them to discuss potential commercial partnerships.
Given the public sector focus of this event, expected participants include:
- Government leaders (heads of state, ministers of government, IT agency heads)
- International Financial Organizations (such as World Bank, the African Development Bank)
- Bilateral donor organisations (such as USAID, DFID, GTZ, JICA, SIDA, etc), IGOs (such as the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, NEPAD)
- The private sector (including partner technology firms, etc)
- Civil society representatives (e.g. academia and NGOs)