[November 28, 2022 Bahir Dar, ISC/BiT]
The 4th International Conference on ICT4D is organized by ICT4D-BiT-BDU in collaboration with UNDP, UNICEF, and IEEE. During the start, Dr. Mekuanint Agegnehu, Deputy Scientific Director for Research and Community Service, said that ICT4D was established in 2016 with the goal of becoming one of the top five ICT research centers in 10 to 15 years. Later on, Dr. Esubalew Alemneh ICT4D director, highlighted that ICT4D bridges the digital divide and support economic growth. He also stated that ICT4DA conference is hosted to bring together researchers and engineers to discuss and work on a variety of topics. Dr. Bimrew Tamrat, Scientific Director of BiT, on the other hand, made a remark on the institutes practical and technological aims, which help graduates become innovators and entrepreneurs. He also said that, BiT teaches a number of students in preparation for ABET certification for undergraduate programs, while, ICT4D is one of the research centers devoted to advancing technology and innovation.
Professor Fisseha Mekuria, research scientist at CSIR, recognized the importance of culture and language, and emphasized the need of honoring one's own language and culture in order to be recognized globally. Meanwhile, over 2.7 billion people have never utilized the internet, and most advancement and innovations are focused on other areas. So, researchers must include all mankind as a consideration, and projects and research must be community-based; otherwise, delivering successful answers will be in question. On the other hand, novel digital services are required to enable access to the community in order for it to adapt. He also mentioned the work being done in the Republic of South Africa to help rural enterprises and schools via planning.
Mr. Nathi Mbele, a South African entrepreneur, adds weight to Professor Fisseha’s words by sharing his own experience. Apart from declaring Ethiopia to be the future and mother of Africa, he urged on government regulation to provide a playground for operators. His rural network services provide comprehensive assistance to South Africans. He stated that young Africans are numerous yet unconnected, and just 20% of the African population has access to providers, leaving the remainder out. Meanwhile, firms with more 30 years of experience exist in Africa, and profit is a goal that has harmed the populace. Additionally, Dr. L. Mfupe spoke about impact analysis on initiatives to support youth and women owned rural and township wireless network operators.
In the Afternoon’s session Dr. Abeba Birhane, from Mozilla foundation and University College Dublin Ireland delivered a keynote speech on the impact and significance of AI in an environment where most Ethiopians are focused on NLP. According to her speech, robots serve for a variety of purposes and functions, particularly in easing human burdens. However, most AI models developed in some companies have a bias with regard to skin, gender, and other factors, which she insisted on developing local models based on the challenges at hand and training the data with accurate input. Bethlehem Abera Gronnerberg, Founder & Executive Director of uCodeGirl, elaborated the challenges raised by Dr. Abeba Birhane through sharing her experiences.
The conference will continue in parallel sessions until Wednesday.
Information and Strategic Communication Directorate