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UNECA Executive Secretary Opens Information Science and Technology Meeting

2 May 2011: The second session of UNECA's Committee on Development Information Science and Technology (CODIST-II) is convening from 2-5 May 2011, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, under the theme “Innovation for Industrial Development in Africa.”

CODIST is one of the seven subsidiary bodies of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and comprises senior officials and experts from member States who meet on a biennial basis. The role of CODIST is to: review challenges and issues pertaining to the information and communication technologies (ICTs), science, technology and innovation, geo-information, and libraries and information services sectors; formulate policies and strategies to address Africa's development challenges; and determine priorities to be reflected in the work programme of the ICT, Science and Technology Division of the UNECA. The aim of this second session of CODIST is to explore the extent to which African countries have harnessed the power of innovation to enhance industrial development on the continent and the extent to which industrial development has been linked to the countries' innovation systems.

It will, inter alia, examine: innovation strategies and industrial development; enabling environment, innovation and industrial development; science and technology, and research and development for industrial development; ICT innovation and industrial development; geographic innovation systems innovations and industrial development in Africa; and knowledge, innovation and industrial development.

Speaking at the opening of the session, Abdoulie Janneh, UNECA Executive Secretary, noted that the large turnout illustrates participants' resolve to make greater use of science and technology to tackle Africa's developmental challenges through the exploitation of scientific and technological development. Noting Africa's vulnerability to external shocks, he stressed the need for the continent to "overcome its current narrow and weak technological and industrial base." Janneh highlighted new innovations in the ICT sector and their benefits, particularly for social and economic development, and said African countries need to reorient their ICT policies and strategies to generate employment and wealth for their people. He underscored that the session provides "a good opportunity to discuss the potential of geospatial and space-related technology for Africa's development," highlighting that advances in space technology have contributed to addressing climate change.

He indicated the UNECA's full engagement in the consultation process for the establishment by the UN Secretariat of the Global Geospatial Information Management (GGIM) initiative as an inter-governmental mechanism to play a leadership role in setting the agenda for the development of geospatial information and to promote its use to address key global challenges, including sustainable development, climate change, early warning, and disaster management. [Event Website] [UNECA Press Release]