Congress WBN Hosts Successful ICT Forum in Africa

A delegation from Trinidad & Tobago travelled to Zimbabwe to share experiences with their African counterparts at a conference in Harare, Zimbabwe organized by Trinidad-based nonprofit Congress WBN (C-WBN).

The meeting which ran from 14 – 16 September was titled the “C-WBN Forum for Ethical Nations Development” with the theme “Strategies for Economic Development & Social Transformation through ICTs.” The event was held in conjunction with Africa ICT 2010 and endorsed by the Governments of both countries.

The Caribbean delegation included Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Administration, Arlene McComie; CEO of the Trinidad & Tobago ICT Company, Cleveland Thomas; Managing Director of Teleios Systems and Deputy Chairman of the T&T e-Business Round Table, Ronald Hinds; and the Secretary General of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), Bernadette Lewis. The group joined senior officials from Congress WBN in the persons of President Dr. Noel Woodroffe and Executive Directors Marlon Jameson and Bevil Wooding.

In his keynote address, titled ‘Core Imperatives for Successful National Development’, Founder and President of Congress WBN, Dr Noel Woodroffe used the well known account of David and Goliath to highlight the new architecture of leadership that has to emerge if developing countries are to take their place in a rapidly mutating future.

Ms. McComie and Mr. Thomas drew from lessons learnt in Trinidad and Tobago’s experience in national Information and Communications Technology (ICT) development to extract principles relevant to the African context. Their sessions highlighted how ICT is impacting all spheres of national development and also showcased the activities now transforming the relationships between the state, the business sector and individuals.

Bernadette Lewis held up the CTU’s highly successful Caribbean ICT Roadshow as a model for engaging stakeholders in any region and creating sustainable multi-sector initiatives to encourage and support innovation and the innovation use of ICTS across all sectors of society.

“Technology Facilitating Transformation” was the subject of Mr. Hinds’ presentation. He used his experience to demonstrate how tools such as mobile technology can be used to create a seamless Africa in which knowledge and information is shared across the continent to better facilitate trade, commerce and social interactions.

The importance of leadership and collaboration were recurring themes in the two day event. The audience, which included officials from the Government, private sector, educational institutions, and civil society, took full opportunity to participate in the highly interactive sessions.

Marlon Jameson and Bevil Wooding approached the role of leadership vision and values-based considerations from different angles, but came to similar conclusions - the success of national ICT initiatives is dependent on leadership commitment. Jameson spoke of the emerging “Ethical Divide” in the global ICT technology development agenda, while Wooding dealt with the factors that hinder the successful achievement of the promise of ICTs.

Participants described the conference as thought-provoking and highly practical. Several delegates from neighboring nations even asked the facilitators to consider bring the Forum to their countries. One official stated “Zimbabwe is very impressed with the models presented by the team from Trinidad and Tobago and we hope there will be further opportunity for collaboration.” Congress WBN was established in Trinidad in 1993 and now operates in over 90 nations promoting values-based leadership and ‘ethical initiatives’ for nations- development'.

Dr. Woodroffe stated, “C-WBN is committed to values-based development at home and across the nations. We were pleased with the successful outcome of the ICT Forum in Harare. We were also grateful for the opportunity to facilitate this historic event where experts from our home base, Trinidad and Tobago, were able share their experiences with the Government and people of Zimbabwe.”

Related links: UN Public Administration Network News reports on Congress WBN ICT Forum in Zimbabwe: Leadership Key to Unlocking the Promise of ICTs in Africa

Money Biz report on Congress WBN ICT Forum in Zimbabwe