Making e-Africa a virtual reality

10 November 2010 | Story by Newsroom

Dr Max PriceWired welcome: VC Dr Max Price gave the opening address at the International Development Informatics Association Conference.

Terms such as m-Health, e-Health, m-Banking and e-Government were the order of the day - three days, in fact, of the fourth International Development Informatics Association (IDIA) Conference, hosted by UCT's Department of Information Systems from 3 to 5 November.

Running concurrently, conference workshops and seminars examined the application of internet technology in various fields (earning these the e- prefix for 'electronic') as well as the use of cellphones (the m- prefix stands for 'mobile') where internet availability is scarce.

With the theme Exploring Success and Failure in Development Informatics: Innovation, Research and Practice, the conference focussed on information technology in Africa and developing nations. Topics discussed included BEE trends in informatics, the challenges of e-Government in Africa, using cellphones to buy electricity, the awareness and use of m-banking in rural and low-income communities, using instant messaging systems to combat substance abuse, and the barriers to adopting internet and cellphone technology in developing countries.

In his opening address welcoming delegates from some 30 countries, vice-chancellor Dr Max Price also cited the use of information technology to preserve traditional oral histories, promoting employment opportunities, and enabling the deaf to use cellphones.

Price said that the IDIA conference embraces a wide range of disciplines that rely on information technology as a tool in strengthening research capacity.

"The wide range of delegates present here is a replica of what we'd like UCT itself to be," said Price.

"Much like our mission of being an Afropolitan university, this event brings an African lens to the world, as well as a global lens to Africa."

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