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India launches India-Africa ICT Expo 2015 in Kenya

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Nairobi: Ahead of the India Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi in October, India launched the first India-Africa ICT Expo here in the Kenyan capital under the theme of ‘India: Your Partner for Technology Next’.

The event, on September 28-29, was launched in conjunction with Information Technology Authority of Kenya, Telecom Export Promotion Council (TEPC) of India, and National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM).

The event, inaugurated by Najib Balala, Cabinet Secretary of Kenya and Rakesh Garg, Secretary Telecom of India, was attended by various officials and business leaders from India, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Sudan.

“We have got a lot of experience in policies, networks/technology, skill development and innovative solutions using ICT to share with Africa,” said Garg.

“We see opportunities for cooperation and our government is keen to encourage business activities between India and Africa,” Garg said.

Over 300 technology companies from India and Africa are showing their latest products and solutions at this expo-cum-conference. The cost of the event is one crore, partially sponsored by Indian government.

“Africa is one of the fastest growing ICT market and we see opportunity to build high-capacity and resilient broadband network infrastructure along with innovative IT solutions,” Sanjay Nayak, vice chairman of TEPC and MD Tejas Networks, said.

“Indian companies have an advantage in African markets, since they already have the experience of successfully tackling similar business challenges, competitive pressures and harsh operating environment in India,” Nayak said.

The expo is a platform to build synergy among India and African countries to showcase innovative and diversified products and services. It is a platform to discuss solutions to regulatory business, according to Akansha Tete, director of global trade development at NASSCOM India.

“As digitalisation and mobility continue to transform business operations and everyday life, the expo presents the latest technologies that help companies to evolve and maintain a competitive edge in the communication and digital world,” she said.

This cements the relationship between India and Africa in the development of ICT, Julius Torach, deputy director of ICT ministry Uganda, said.

“For example, we have had telecommunications project from Tele Medicine and Tele Education implemented in Uganda. We have had delegations going to India on business process outsourcing (BPO) linkages. This kind of environment gives us an opportunity to promote trade relations between India and Africa,” Torach said.

“We are much closer to India not only geographically but in terms of challenges as well and we need to enhance our relationship in terms of ICT. We need relevant Indian solutions for our development,” Hassen Mashinda, PhD, director general of Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology, said.

“As India and Africa witness exponential growth in the telecommunication and information technology segments, trade partnership is bound to gain in the field of ICT,” he added.

The organisers are planning to make the Indo-Africa ICT Expo an annual programme by hosting it in different parts of Africa and India.

(By Hadra Ahmad, IANS)

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No More Schoolgirls Examined For Female Genital Mutilation in Kenya

We are not going to line up all the girls and test them — you can't do that as they can be stigmatized

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FILE - A T-shirt warns against female genital mutilation. Its wearer attends an event, discouraging harmful practices such as FGM, at a girls high school in Imbirikani, Kenya, April 21, 2016. VOA

No schoolgirls in western Kenya are being forced to undergo examinations for female genital mutilation, Kenyan authorities said Tuesday, after a government official sparked outrage by proposing compulsory tests to curb the crime.

George Natembeya, commissioner for Narok County, said on Friday that girls returning to school after the Christmas break were being screened for female genital mutilation (FGM) in order to prosecute their parents and traditional cutters.

Rights groups condemned the move, saying examining the girls — aged between nine and 17 — was demeaning and contravened their right to privacy and dignity.

FGM, Kenya
Maasai girls and a man watch a video on a mobile phone prior to the start of a social event advocating against harmful practices such as female genital mutilation at the Imbirikani Girls High School in Imbirikani, Kenya. VOA

Kenya’s Anti-FGM Board said they had conducted an investigation in Narok after Natembeya’s statement and found no evidence of girls being tested.

“The Board hereby confirms that no girl has been paraded for FGM screening as per allegations that have been circulating in the last few days,” the semi-autonomous government agency said in a statement.

“The Board recognises and appreciates the role played by different stakeholders in complementing the government’s efforts in the FGM campaigns but we want to reiterate that all interventions must uphold the law.”

FGM, which usually involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia, is prevalent across parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East — and is seen as necessary for social acceptance and increasing a girl’s marriage prospects.

FGM, Kenya
KAMELI, KENYA – AUGUST 12: A Masaai villager displays the traditional blade used to circumcise young girls August 12, 2007 in Kameli, Kenya. VOA

FGM dangers

It is usually performed by traditional cutters, often with unsterilized blades or knives. In some cases, girls can bleed to death or die from infections. It can also cause lifelong painful conditions such as fistula and fatal childbirth complications.

Kenya criminalized FGM in 2011, but the deep-rooted practice persists. According to the United Nations, one in five Kenyan women and girls aged between 15 and 49 have undergone FGM.

Natembeya said he had announced the compulsory tests to warn communities not to practice FGM on their daughters, but that there was no intention to force all girls to undergo screening.

Rights groups said the policy was rolled back following outrage.

Also Read: The Risk of FGM Hangs Above British Schoolgirls During Holiday Break

“We are not going to line up all the girls and test them — you can’t do that as they can be stigmatized,” he told Reuters.

“What we are doing is that if we get reports from schools that a girl has undergone FGM, it becomes a police case and the girl is taken to hospital and medically examined. Then the parents or caregivers will be arrested and taken to court.” (VOA)