Nigeria ICT Fest: Bridging the Digital Divide
Dates: December 1-3, 2016
The Nigeria ICT Fest is a futurist conference in Nigeria whose purpose is to bridge the digital divide between Nigeria and the developed world, and is currently seeking partners, collaborators and sponsors. This is an interview with the Conference Lead Organizer Agbolade Omowole.
Thank you for agreeing to do this interview. First off, let’s go over a bit about yourself. Can you give us a some background who you are and briefly explain what Nigeria ICT is?
A:My name is Agbolade Omowole. I am a Nigerian technology researcher and the founder of Nigeria ICT Fest and Christopher S. Jannette is on the board of directors for the Nigeria ICT Fest.
Q: Nigeria has become a hub of innovation. Why do you think that is?
A: Lagos, the former federal capital territory of Nigeria, may be considered a hub of innovation because it is one of the fastest growing economies in world. Businesses in Lagos are using good internet oriented technologies such as websites, social media, and mobile apps to deliver value, but they have not caught up with the developed world.
Q: Wonderful, so what is the focus of this conference? What’s your vision for how it relates to Nigeria and in a broader sense, Africa and the goals you’re outlining for the next few decades?
A: About one third of the world’s natural resources are in Africa. Africa has a rich history and Egypt is one of the world’s oldest civilizations. When we shift our focus and attention to Africa, we may be looking at the future of the world economy. That said, the focus of Nigeria ICT Fest is to leverage emerging technologies – genetic engineering, nanotechnology, biotechnology, robotics, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, biohacking, and virtual reality among others. The reason for leveraging these technologies is to improve the standard of living in Africa which is arguably the poorest region of the world. In the next few decades, poverty and illnesses will be greatly reduced or almost eliminated as a result of emerging technologies.
Q: Very interesting. What would you define as the primary goal for Nigeria ICT?
A: The primary goal of Nigeria ICT Fest conference is to bridge the technology gap (digital divide) between Nigeria and the developed world.
Q: For those of us interesting in following these developments as Radical Science continues to cover them, who have you invited to present?
A: Currently, we have invited speakers based on the theme of the conference: “current trends in Artificial Intelligence and space exploration as it relates to Africa.” Most of our speakers are experts in Artificial Intelligence and space exploration. World renown Artificial Intelligence experts such as Dr. Ben Goertzel, Peter Voss, Mark Waser, Dr. Roman V. Yampolskiy, and Dr. Susan Schneider will Skype-in, while Eray Ozkural, Nell Watson (Robotics faculty at Singularity University), Mira Kwak, and Raymond de Lacaze will speak live at the conference on current trends in Artificial Intelligence. Christopher Jannette will help in facilitating a CubeSat workshop, which will be happening for the first time in Nigeria.
Q: For Nigerian entrepreneurs and researchers, will they also be given a platform so that they can get exposure from the broader world?
A: Of course. We hope to showcase local talents and innovations at Nigeria ICT Fest 2016. We know that some entrepreneurs in the developed world may be interested in local innovations, products, and services that they can support. We will provide this platform.
Q: That’s a unique approach to gaining exposure and support, having a mixture of panelists and speakers while giving a special platform to Nigerian talent. What else should attendees be looking forward to?
A: Nigeria ICT Fest 2016 is something everyone should look at for, because we are looking at all angles to bridging the digital divide. Apart from the conference, there will be an ICT trade show and four workshops. We will:
1) Build a miniature satellite (CubeSat) in a workshop in Lagos for an eventual launch
2)Hold a comprehensive workshop on digital jobs. The goal is to reduce cybercrime in Nigeria, by showing Nigerians how to make a living on the internet legitimately.
3) Hold a workshop on Code-lab – Mobile App training will equip attendees with the relevant skill to make a living building Mobile Apps as an entrepreneur or employee.
4) Hold a workshop on Artificial Intelligence – Progress in artificial intelligence and machine learning will lead to unprecedented strides in the future.
Now an interview with Christopher S. Jannette on the board of directors for Nigeria ICT Fest.
Q: Christopher, what sparked your interest to work with Agbolade on Nigeria ICT Fest and how do you feel international space development can play a role?
A: There’s a great network of young professionals in our generational cohort who approach a lot of these grand challenges differently than previous generations. We don’t see cultural differences as fundamental barriers to cooperation. There has been no point prior to this moment in history when the problems facing our species can be confronted through not just technological means, but new paradigms of social and structural thought. Africa is at a unique juncture point now where they can leapfrog over many legacy infrastructure systems which have been built in the west over the last century and have a clean slate to build a better future. By 2050 Africa will have a population approaching 2.5 billion people. The resources required just on this continent alone might overwhelm their countries’ abilities to support those numbers unless we integrate these new technological solutions being developed.
Advances in drone delivery, permaculture and, yes, space research can help make this a reality. Nigeria is the only country on the African continent (that I know) taking space development seriously, with the intent to have a domestic manned spaceflight program by 2035. Wherever we have seen the peaceful exploration of space we’ve seen revolutions in technologies to impact our daily lives. Bringing together commercial spaceflight visionaries with the rising economies in Africa will enable millions of people to get involved and apart of this new space age.
Q: Can you tell us about the spaceflight workshop you’re hosting?
A: Sure, we are looking to invite students, programmers and young engineers to develop a small cubesat for an eventual launch. This will be one of the first space hackathons on record and we’re happy to do it in Lagos. We’ll be able to tell you more about that soon but we’re very excited to participate.
Q: How long will the conference be and what are the dates? Will the info for speakers be online for printing?
A: The conference will be held for three days: December 1-3, 2016
Q: Will there be livestreaming for those of us who can’t make it out?
A: Sure, there will be livestreaming for people who can’t make it out for the conference. We are currently making plans towards that.
Q: Agbolade, final question. What is your vision for a radical science future?
A: My vision for a radical science future is to explore the worlds below (the oceans) and the worlds above (the one million plus planets), and eventually explore the human mind, which I believe will be the last frontier. We will eventually do everything from mind mapping to brain computer interface to mind-plexing. Eventually, in the end, merge spirituality with science.
“Thank you very much, that was a great answer, it was wonderful to have you.“
“My pleasure.“ – Agbolade Omowole