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UN chief urges youth to embrace ICT

IANS 01 Nov 2014, 8:32:31 AM IST

Nairobi: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Friday called on the youth to embrace the use of Information and Community Technology (ICT) to help tackle emerging development challenges.

Ban, who interacted with young Kenyan technology innovators at the iHub, an incubation facility for entrepreneurs and innovators in Nairobi, said homegrown technology based solutions are key to effectively dealing with current and emerging development challenges, Xinhua reported.

"Creative ideas being advanced in Kenya and other developing countries will play an important role in transforming society for the future. They will make life much easier and should be used by all people around the world," the UN chief said in a statement issued after the visit.

The incubation facility currently has a membership of over 10,000 youths, many of whom have gone ahead to start their own web- based businesses and continued to offer mentorship to upcoming technology innovators to meet the growing demand for development-based technology.

Ban lauded iHub innovation centre for blazing the trail in technology, especially in encouraging girls and women to not only learn but to also come up with solutions to issues affecting them.

"I am pleased and inspired by the active engagement of the young people in seeking development solutions through ICT," he said.

The UN chief, who arrived in Nairobi Wednesday, said he was impressed by the creativity that young people are using with limited resources to come up with innovative ideas that can spur growth in the country.

He cited mobile money transfer service, M-Pesa, as one of the local innovative solutions that Kenya has exported and is being used internationally.

He said mobile technologies and the internet are opening new channels of interaction and can be used for gathering, disseminating and analysing information, which can accelerate action to protect natural resources, combat climate change and help vulnerable people.

Ban urged policy makers to support the youth by providing an ideal policy framework for their innovations to succeed in the region and the rest of the world.

"Kenya is a thriving country and a power house in the regional economy, strategic to the political and security stability of Eastern Africa," he noted.

iHub played a crucial role in mitigating violence during the 2007 post-election chaos, through "Ushahidi.com" where Kenyans used their mobile phones to record eye witness reports of violence, which helped in mapping out hotspots that could more readily receive priority attention from the police. It was also used to monitor and manage online hate messages in the run-up to the 2013 elections.