Sunday, 23 September 2012

UN-Backed online platform to discuss how tech helps rebuild Somalia

  Somali youth use the Internet at a cyber cafe in Mogadishu, capital of Somalia, May 17, 2012. Internet use has become
a popular new hobby among the youth in the capital, which has been enjoying relative peace since August last year following the withdrawal of Al Shabaab fighters.
(Xinhua/Faisal Isse)
By Njoroge Kaburo
Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- A UN-backed platform will from Monday stream live a first-of-its-kind discussion among Somali change- makers to the world from Mogadishu.

The platform, dubbed, the Social Good Summit is a global conversation on how technology and new media can be harnessed to address some of the world's greatest
challenges."Somali innovators, business owners, information technology experts, community activists, educators, journalists, government officials and development workers
will come together to discuss how new technology is increasingly being embraced to rebuild the country," the UNDP Communications specialist Aimee Brown said in a
statement issued in Nairobi on Saturday.She said hundreds of other cities around the world will also participate in the discussion through online meetups, many of which are
organized by the United Nations Development Programme.

Brown said the social media innovation across all spheres of business and society is creating new opportunities and a renewed optimism in Somalia, and the first Social Good
Summit Mogadishu will highlight these changes.Somalis want a better future for themselves and their families, and they want to be the ones to shape it. Speakers and
panellists will examine how technology is contributing to sustainable development and connecting Somalis to the global online generation; how mobile phones, banking and
cash transfers are defining Somalia's emerging financial sector and enabling international investment.

The speakers will also examine how Somalia's youth are using social media and technology to create opportunities for themselves and build a better future for their country. 
"Currently, a fragile peace pervades in Mogadishu. Businesses are opening up and life is springing back to its streets. This has created the space for fresh technology initiatives
to flourish," Brown said. Social media is also rapidly becoming a popular means of communicating and sharing information among Somali youth.

According to recent statistics, every single Internet user in Somalia has a Facebook account - more than 75 percent of those are under the age of 34.   New ISPs are providing
wireless Internet to businesses and universities; solar energy is being harnessed to light city streets; the presidential election process was streamed live to hundreds of
thousands of Somalis all around the world; and journalists are increasingly using social media channels to report the news. Both government and the private sector are
tapping into innovative technologies to share information and redevelop the city sustainably.Money transfer companies are helping remote communities to set up virtual
community savings groups that provide individuals and families with small loans when needed. Similarly, mobile phone companies are enabling people - from taxi drivers to
market sellers - to transact without having to carry cash. The first commercial banks are opening, transforming the way that people save and spend their money.  (Xinhua)

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