(11-14 June 2009)
Over 180 research partners from more than 30 countries including India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, China, Korea, Japan, Mongolia, Canada and Malaysia attended the conference at Wawasan Open University.
The conference themed ‘Networking to Build Equitable Information Societies in Asia’ was organised and sponsored by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), in partnership with WOU. Participants comprised project leaders, representatives from PAN research networks, global researchers in ICT, key regional practitioners and researchers, evaluators, donors and staff from IDRC.
A welcome reception and launch of the fourth edition of the book, ‘Digital Review of Asia Pacific 2009-2010’, took place at Evergreen Laurel Penang on June 11th. Former head of Mimos Bhd - Malaysia’s research and development organisation in Information and Communication and Microelectronics - Tengku Datuk Dr Mohd Azzman Shariffadeen handed a copy to ICT4D and IDRC’s Research on Health Equity director Dr Michael Clarke of to signify the launch.
Among the contributors to this comprehensive guide on the state-of-practice and trends in information and communications technologies for development (ICTD) in Asia Pacific, are WOU’s Vice Chancellor Tan Sri Emeritus Prof Gajaraj Dhanarajan and Prof Ng Wai Kong.
Canadian High Commissioner to Malaysia HE Mr David Collins, IDRC’s Southeast and East Asia Regional Director Richard Fuchs and Pan Asia Networking Programme Leader Laurent Elder, attended the launch.
Meanwhile the three-day conference at WOU offered capacity building exercises, skills training workshops and networking interactions for the delegates.
A somewhat hilarious ‘Change Talk Show’ hosted by Dr Clarke came complete with an ‘applause’ cue card for the audience and commercial interruptions for the organisers to brief about upcoming conference activities. The guests – Angelo Ramos and Alvin Marcelo of the Philippines, and Helani Galpaya of Sri Lanka – talked about projects implemented with IDRC funding and the benefits to the target community.
The second day saw the delegates attending about 16 learning clinics moderated by several IDRC personnel. The topics touched on: gender; social reporting about events; evaluation of ICT and development projects; community-based participatory research; resource mobilisation; and building capacity for ICT in rural communities.
The final day of the conference covered talks on ‘Catalysing the impact of ICTs for development’ and ‘The Great Mobile Debate’ about how mobiles can transform ICT in development countries.
It was not just ‘all work and no play’ as the participants had fun learning how to perform a few steps of the joget, tie a sarong, and make teh tarik. They also visited the Dr Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Centre at Macalister Road; went on a scavenger hunt to designated locations on George Town’s Heritage Trail, explored Gurney Drive, and enjoyed a seafront barbecue on WOU grounds as a fitting finale to the conference.