ITU Capacity-Building Symposium Discusses Internet Governance, Collaboration 09/09/2016 by Justus Wanzala for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)NAIROBI, Kenya — Strong linkages and structured collaborative initiatives between the academia and industry in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector are key to enhancing capacity building in rapidly growing sector across the globe, a United Nations-led event here this week has said. Speakers at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Global ICT Capacity Building Symposium (CBS) that was held in Nairobi from 4-9 September noted that growth of the global economy is increasingly being hinged on growth in ICT connectivity and innovativeness. ITU is a United Nations specialised agency for ICTs. The symposium brought together stakeholders from across the world to discuss trends and developments in the sector and their implications for human and institutional capacity building. Its theme was: “Embracing capacity building opportunities in the digital era.” [Update:] The ITU press release from the event is here. ITU capacity-building symposiums provide strategic guidance to the national and international community, including ITU, on capacity building in the field of ICT, and on strengthening collaboration among the global ICT capacity building community. For academia stakeholders, the forum provided a platform to gauge the needs of the market in terms of training and capacity building in the field of ICT. Be as it may, the 2016 forum did not widely address concerns surrounding intellectual property rights despite exploring models of collaboration between learning and research institutions and the industry. Other issues that came to the fore were links between ICTs and the UN Sustainable Development Goals as well as future priorities for human capacity building. Participants also addressed establishment of coherence in capacity building, coping with new skills requirements in a changing ICT environment, new ways of learning in a digital era and internet governance. According to Oliver Holland, research fellow, Centre for Telecommunications Research, King’s College London, IP issues are key in any collaborative initiatives between universities and the industry. “Companies and manufacturers in general are cagey about IP issues,” he noted. Citing the case of the United Kingdom, he said the situation has prompted top universities in the country to enter into a scheme with manufacturers whereby universities receive payments from companies adopting their innovations. “The scheme is working better for all parties. It is a win-win situation,” he told Intellectual Property Watch. He added that when dealing with companies outside the UK, in most instances agreements are drawn upfront between universities and the companies in question. Learning Opportunity for Local Innovators Cornelius Wafula, a Kenyan young innovator and a lead developer of Easyprep application, a virtual education platform whose objective is to provide high school students with educational content, said most young innovators rarely focus on IP protection before their innovation reach the market. He admits to not being fully conversant with patent policies and registration procedures in Kenya. He added that there is need for young innovators to minimize exposure of their innovations lest their ideas be stolen by powerful corporate organisations. “There have been cases where innovators have had their IP rights violated by large companies in the ICT sector in Kenya, thus caution is needed,” he observed. Belinda Exelby, head of international relations at GSMA, an organisation that represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, development banks and regional regulatory organisations, said they have not incorporated IP rights issues into their ICT capacity-building initiatives. She said in their collaboration schemes with universities they sign agreements to ensure universities secure their IP rights on their innovations. She said they undertake capacity training for policymakers as well as partner with academic institutions around the world. “The IP issues in my opinion need to be amplified, it appears they have been given lukewarm treatment,” she said. Internet governance was equally identified as key component of ICT capacity building. Katharina Hone, project manager and researcher for online learning, Diplo Foundation, said interdisciplinary cooperation is vital in internet governance. The foundation is a non-profit organisation based in Malta that focuses on internet governance. She said internet governance as an element of capacity building in the ICT sector encompasses issues such as cultural, economic human rights, cybersecurity infrastructure and standardisation. Hone said capacity building in the ICT sector is being hampered by lack of research. “Capacity building has got to go far beyond teaching,” she said. She adds that the sector should prepare new generation of students to respond to the multidisciplinary challenge brought by the internet. “There should be provision of practical innovation opportunities to help trainees and participants bridge the gap between policy and practice. However, this requires time, it is not a one day affair,” she said. As far as science communication is concerned, she said the internet has changed how researchers communicate science matters and how the public discuss science issues and communicate with scientists. Hone noted that partnerships among stakeholders in the ICT sector. Hone opined that partnership in capacity building contributes to access to concrete evidence based case studies of industry academia collaborations. It also offers flexibility through providing variety of business models, she stated. Another issue explored was how to make collaborations successful. Andres Navarro Cadavid, a professor at Universidad Icesi in Colombia, said collaborations too have their own challenges. Through his involvement with programmes where the industry collaborates with academia in scaling up new ICT technologies he has learnt important elements of collaboration. He noted that for collaboration to succeed, long term relationships between players are needed, along with visionary leadership where the focus is on people not institutions. “We’ve seen that much agreement between the academia collapses but our project has been successful due to the commitment of the people,” he said. Participants at the same time delved into what growth in ICT innovations portend for universities and other tertiary institutions. Roberto Rossi, a professor and academic vice rector at Universidad Blas Pascal in Argentina, said the advent of ICTs has posed a question on whether it spells the end of universities as they have been known. Two-thirds of students are training for jobs that will not exist in the near future, he said, while robotics are taking up jobs and multidisciplinary courses have emerged. Rossi also lamented that regulatory and certification agencies the world over are blocking reforms in the tertiary education sector. According to him, tech savvy millennials are arriving at the universities while universities are run by baby boomers. “There is need to prepare students for the unknown in view of the first changing career professional requirement. Prepare professors to use innovative teaching using innovative technology,” he emphasised. His views were shared by Ilana Milkes, founder and CEO, World Tech Makers, from Colombia, who said traditional education system is not preparing children well to face future challenges. World Tech, said Milkes, targets the unlocking of human potential using education in technology in emerging markets. “Emerging markets account for 90 per cent of the population aged below 30 years thus cannot be ignored,” she said. On the other hand, Pratik Marwah, co-founder of iAugmentor Labs, which provides an assessment-based learning platform that engages learners through multiple learning mediums, said students in the universities of the future will learn on their own. He said colleges and universities are facing a changed landscape due to increased mobility of students and enhanced affordability. “Technology is omnipresent,” he said. “Students may not need a teacher but a mentor. Learners require materials not just for reading but having fun too.” Duncan Mochama, business manager, BRCK Education team of software developers, engineers and technologists based in Nairobi, said whereas education unlocks the door to development, information technology can unlock the door to education. BRCK has designed and prototyped a device that facilitates learning in areas, where electricity and internet connections are problematic both in urban and rural areas. It comes with a hub for all local devices, and enough backup power to survive a blackout. Each box has 40 tablets. The devices have been tried in Malawi, and the Solomon Islands. [Update:] “This Capacity Building Symposium marked the start of an important discussion on new skill requirements in the digital era, particularly in the context of working towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals,” Brahima Sanou, director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, said in the ITU release. “Kenya is today a renowned tech-hub and a model for ICT innovation. It is a great example for us and, especially, for young people and future generations of leaders in developing countries.” Image Credits: Justus Wanjala Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Justus Wanzala may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org."ITU Capacity-Building Symposium Discusses Internet Governance, Collaboration" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.