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ITU’s global ICT Capacity Building Symposium opens in Nairobi, Kenya

Over 500 participants from government, business, academia, non-governmental organizations and the United Nations family are meeting in Nairobi this week to formulate and optimize human capacity building strategies for the information and communication technology (ICT) sector, to improve' digital skills and empower countries to take full advantage of strong continued growth in ICT-related jobs.

Organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the UN specialized agency for ICTs, and hosted by the Communications Authority of Kenya, the global ICT Capacity Building Symposium (CBS-2016) provides an opportunity for stakeholders from across the world to discuss trends and developments in the sector and their implications for human and institutional capacity building, and to develop strategies to accelerate progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at a time of major digital technology transformation.

"We live in a knowledge economy where new opportunities are emerging every day. ICTs are now at the centre of almost everything we do, and those who are empowered with digital skills and have the ability and opportunity to learn and adapt will gain a significant competitive advantage," said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. "This symposium brings together key ICT and education stakeholders to discuss how emerging technologies are changing the human capacity building environment: ITU is committed to helping all its members effectively and rapidly build human ICT capacity and improve ICT skills." 

"ICTs occupy a very special place in the hearts and minds of Kenyans. Indeed, ICTs not only drive the Kenyan society today but also are intricately embedded in our national development plan, which Kenya calls 'Vision 2030'," said William Ruto, Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya.  "Innovation is fuel of today's development. It is the foundation for the transformative and visionary societies of today and tomorrow. We are living in the most dynamic time in history. Today's innovation makes last week's innovation obsolete. We need to feed this monster; we need to let it devour the challenges of our time and usher us into a new inter-connected age of prosperity."

CBS-2016 panellists and speakers bring together high-level officials including government ministers, Director-Generals of national regulatory authorities, heads of UN organizations, CEOs of private sector companies, representatives from academia and research institutions and other experts in ICT capacity building.

"Emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) are increasingly becoming a reality," said Joseph Mucheru, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology of Kenya. He added "these require different sets of knowledge and skills across all sections of society.  Governments, industry, universities and other higher education institutions need to invest in a range of ICT skills at various levels, to not only enable increased participation in the economy, but also ensure the creation of digital citizens for a digital society." 

"As society experiences the 'digitization of everything', learning methods and models change, offering educators and students new digital tools such as virtual classrooms, personalized instruction, adaptive curriculum, and blended learning," said Fred O. Matiang'i, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology of Kenya.

CBS-2016 discussions will focus on new skills requirements in a changing world; innovative tools for education and learning; new digital learning methodologies including online learning through social media and MOOCs (massive open online courses); and the central role of academia in building skills in the digital era.

"The cornerstone of ITU's capacity building strategy is strengthening existing structures and introducing innovative initiatives for capacity building." said Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU's Telecommunication Development Bureau, which is organizing the event. "Partnerships and collaboration are essential for capacity building in the ICT sector: we rely on partners to design and develop appropriate programmes and deliver training to our Members: our work impacts people's lives across the globe."

This morning's programme also featured a Ministerial Roundtable on ICTs, Sustainable Development Goals and future priorities for human capacity building, and a Leaders Dialogue on the topic of establishing coherence in capacity building.

Francis W. Wangusi, Director General of the Communications Authority of Kenya welcomed participants and re-affirmed Kenya's readiness to offers its renowned hospitality.  "As the home to many ICT innovations, we have much to showcase and share with the global ICT community."

An exhibition showcasing capacity building projects across the world and best practices from academia and industry was unveiled and will run for the duration of the symposium.

The official opening was preceded, on 5 September by two pre-events dedicated to "Capacity Building in Internet Governance" and "Regulators as Enablers and Consumers of Capacity Building" respectively.

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