Tag Archives: Academia

Academic perspectives on WSIS and the SDGs, WSIS 2022

It was a great pleasure to have been invited to contribute as a panellist to Session 406 of the WSIS Annual Forum on 2nd June 2022 on the theme of “Academic perspectives on WSIS and the SDGs”. This was a hybrid event, and as the picture below shows it was sadly not attended by very many people actually in Geneva! (Follow this link for my short, full presentation.)

However there was active participation online, and it was good to share some reflections on the theme. As ever, I tried to be diplomatically provocative, reflecting on my participation in the original World Summit on the Information Society in Geneva (2003) and Tunisia (2005)…

… as well as on many occasions since at the WSIS annual forums, especially when in 2019 I changed WSIS to MISS in front of my good friend Houlin Zhao the Secretary General of the ITU:

My presentation in particular emphasised the important need for the UN system to stop replicating and duplicating its efforts to use ICTs for “development” (or should this read “to serve the interests of the rich and powerful” especially the “digital barons“?); it is striking and sad, for example, that the UN Secretary General’s Roadmap for digital cooperation and Our Common Agenda make no mentions at all of the WSIS process.

My main argument was that with only eight years to go, it is essential that we start planning now for what will replace the SDGs, especially with respect to the uses of digital tech.

I did, though, also address to other themes: how academics can indeed benefit from the WSIS process (see below) as well as a short introduction to the work that we are now doing as part of the Digital-Environment System Coalition (DESC).

Follow this link for my short, full presentation.

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Filed under Conferences, Development, ICT4D, ICT4D conferences, United Nations

“Open Science” Keynote for WACREN

It was a real privilege to have been invited to give a keynote on “Open Science in Africa and for Africans: addressing the challenges” this morning at the West and Central African Research and Education Network (WACREN) 2022 conference held in Abidjan. The role of a keynote is to provoke and challenge, and so I took the opportunity to share some of the reflections and challenges that I have been struggling with over many years, and especially since I first met the inspirational CEO of WACREN, Boubakar Barry, some 18 years ago in Dakar, Sénégal at an event we participated in on Free/Libre and Open Source Software convened by Imfundo.

Participating online in the hybrid WACREN 2022 conference

The six challenges on which I focused in the Keynote were:

  • Whose interests does Open Science really serve?
  • The rise of individualism: is it too late for communal science?
  • Which models of publication best serve Africa?
  • How valuable are Open Data, and for whom?
  • The dangers of Scientism?
  • Who pays?

Underlying my thoughts are two fundamental concerns:

  • If you don’t have access to, or cannot use “Open Science”, can you really benefit from it? Does “Open Science” really empower the poor and marginalised?
  • Is Open Science mainly a means through which the rich and powerful continue to maintain their positions of privilege? This is typified by the ways through which global corporations and companies persuade governments to make their data about citizens available as Open Data, so that these companies can then extract considerable profit from them.

The full slide deck in .pdf format is available here, and the slide below summarises my final thoughts about the ways forward.

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Filed under Africa, Conferences, ICT4D, ICTs, research