Upcoming Internet conference in Africa set to boost sector

ICANN was created to promote competition and is
ICANN was created to promote competition and is the main body that develops policy on the Internet’s unique identifiers, or web addresses. /Fredrick Onyango 

Few outside the ICT industry know that Kenya was awarded its second opportunity to host a major international Internet conference a few weeks ago.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), an organisation that was formed in 1998 to ensure the Internet was safe, secure, and interoperable, announced that it will be holding its Africa conference in Nairobi, a nod to our burgeoning status as a technology hotspot.

ICANN was created to promote competition and is the main body that develops policy on the Internet’s unique identifiers, or web addresses.

As the governor of the world wide web, its decision to host its conference locally has served as a boost to the ICT sector after a planned 2008 meeting was called off following concerns related to the post-election violence earlier that year.

It would appear that quite apart from the high drama that is local politics, Kenya’s international profile as a technology hub is growing, and with it, the profile of key players in the industry.

For evidence of the latter, look no further than Jessica Colaco. When first I met her, Ms Colaco was busy organising a conference that would bring Kenya’s software developer society together for the continent’s first Facebook Developers Garage.

At 26 years old, the self-described researcher, mobile technology evangelist and blogger has achieved more in her short career than many twice her age. She is a software developer of note and was included on Business Daily’s prestigious Top 40 Under 40 list of women last year.

Last week, the organisers of the prestigious Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) Conference named Ms Colaco one of 25 new TED Fellows invited to participate in TED’s annual international conference, TEDGlobal.

It started in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from ICT sector, but has since evolved into a global platform for science, business, the arts, and global issues.

The TEDGlobal conference will take place in Oxford, UK, in July and will draw an eclectic group of participants from countries as diverse as Bahrain, Argentina, Malawi and Jamaica and disciplines as diverse as technology, entertainment, design, science, film, art, music, entrepreneurship as well as the non-profit sector.

Previous speakers at the conference have included Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Sir Richard Branson and Isabelle Allende.

Ms Colaco, selected for her work in the local software development field, will join a Jamaican robotics expert, a political scientist from Belarus and a next-generation Burmese human rights activist, to take her place at one of the most prestigious technology events later this year.