Editor’s Note: EiENigeria and other stakeholders came together to organize the New Media and Governance Conference – a 2 day conference at the nation’s capital. It was a pleasure having a friend, Oluwatobi Soyombo, do a recap of Day 1 of the event. Oluwatobi is a tech crusader and helps organization with online presence management. He also blogs for YNaija, and Mobility. You can follow him on twitter – @SOluwatobi and his blog – Musing of an Incurable Technopreneur.
First of its kind in Africa, the New Media and Governance Conference commenced today in grand style. The program was divided into three (3) Sessions including:
OPENING PLENARY: Welcome: Conference Overview
SESSION I: Nigerian Elections and New Media, Moving Forward
SESSION II: Engaging Government
The Program started with a National Anthem (as usual), after which Yemi Adamolekun gave the overview of the conference. During her speech, she talked about how Social Media has given people all over the world a voice. She also commented about the impact of Social Media in the recent #OccupyNigeria campaign.
The Honourable Minister of the Ministry of Communication Technology, Mrs Omobola Johnson proceeded to give her opening remark. She gave incredible facts about Social Media and Technology in Nigeria. Some of these facts include: about 44million internet users in Nigeria, the fact that President Jonathan became the second most liked President in the world, after President Barack Obama (Facebook). She intimated the participants on how the government is chaning the face of technology in Nigeria.
The opening plenary continued with a remarkable Keynote address by Professor Steven Livingston, who began by giving 5 types of technology and how these technologies are changing the world.
Sub Marine cable
Commercial Remote Sensing Satellites
Communication Satellites and Ground receivers
He stressed that over 5 billion people are connected all over the world. To confirm this stats, Prof. Livingston asked the audience “How many of you have a mobile phone, two, three?” He also made it known that the Innovation Centers, cannot be regarded as a technology per se, but they’re the ones harnessing technology to change the lives of people locally.
According to him, without the Innovation Centers, the other four types of technologies will not make much impact. To buttress his point, he highlighted few Innovation Centers and the platforms they have developed to make the lives of local communities better. Some of the centers and initiatives mentioned include: iHub in Kenya, FrontlineSMS, Rapid SMS, Ushahidi, Reclaim Naija.
He went further to show the audience how these technologies are helping African countries. He cited as an example of some volunteers helping the Kenyan government map the remote areas in Kenya that are currently unavailbale on any of the maps in Kenya. This innitiative is made possible by the Commercial Remote Sensing Satellites.
One of the notable statements made by Prof. Livingston was this one-liner “For the first time, there’s an African revolution, born in Africa and affecting Africans and the world.” He concluded his speech by expressing that “as information costs dimisnish, so too do collaborations costs. Collaboration costs are found in the necessity and type of organization that needed to achieve goals, such as the provision of puclic goods.”
Stephen King made his way to the stage to talk about the Power of Open. Steven King stressed the need for governments to be open. He ended his speech with a 2 minute video highlighting various Open Data initiatives in the world and their effects. One of these is the UK Open Data Initiative that made hospitals publish the success rate of heart surgeries. According to the video, this led to competition among the hospitals and eventually increased the overall success rate by 50%.
The INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega took over the mic with to give his remark. He started by mentioning several benefits of Social Media to INEC. He received a resounded applause when he said “The 2011 General Elections in Nigeria, have been described as the first set of elections in Nigeria driven by new media”.
During his speech, Prof. Jega identified ‘misinformation’, a situation where someone tweets misleading information from an anonymous handle, as one of the cons of Social Media. To minimize this, Prof. Jega suggested the need for the government to regulate the use of Social Media in Nigeria. This suggestion met with mixed feelings among the participants.