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The 2017 ICT Expo Ethiopia kicked off on Wednesday, June 28, 2017 at the Millennium Hall with the Minister of Communication and Information Technology Dr. Debretsion Gebremichael officially opening the expo to the public.
The theme was Digital Ethiopia and it featured many young entrepreneurs with its specially designated area for startups.
“The goal of the event is to affirm that Ethiopia is ready for a new digital age and to serve as a platform for companies, governmental actors, invited speakers, and attendees to come together and craft solutions for the new digital age,” said Debretsion during his opening statement.
The minister further stated that the conference is a good platform for participants to discuss current global trends in the digital space, examine how society is affected in terms of socio economic sectors such as education, health, agriculture as well as finance, by shifts in technology and redefining cross sectional solutions to bring about impactful digital innovations in the digital era.
“Technology, and the information world have become dominant drivers of change in today’s society, and the Internet is a prime example of one of the most radical technological changes since the innovation of the electricity. As research says we increasingly live in a proxy digital world. We cannot unplug our society anymore,” the minister noted.
Although Internet penetration has been growing in Ethiopia, in the beginning of June, there was a nationwide Internet blackout for over a week which was supposedly credited to the national examination taking place during that time. The blackout left many small and big businesses alike in a difficult position because they were completely cutoff from the rest of the world.
This year’s ICT Expo also featured several panel discussions on topics such as building ecosystems on digital financial services, the promise of Ethiopia’s digital health revolution and promoting the culture of health data use, among others. The expo will come to a close on Sunday, July 2, 2017.