Several African and Asian heads of state and government are converging on Tanzania’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, for the Global 2013 International Smart Partnership Dialogue which, in principle, aims to create increased understanding and consensus on development issues.
Hosted by Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, this year’s three-day meeting, starting later on Friday, is being held under the theme ‘Leveraging Technology for Africa’s Socio-economic Transformation: The Smart Partnership Way’.
Welcoming the dialogue participants, President Kikwete urged African leaders and scientists to work hard and close the information technology gap on the continent.
“Malaysia has shown the way that abject poverty is not a curse to live with till doomsday. Let’s work hard and close the ICT gap. Africa should be part of the ICT highway and leverage it for development,” he said.
The last such meeting (20th Dialogue) was held in Putrajaya, Malaysia, 19-21 June 2011 under the theme ‘Enhancing Smart Partnership for Socio-Economic Transformation’.
According to President Kikwete, the most important part of leveraging the information technology in Africa concerns its use for development on issues such as overcoming shortfalls in education and social development in general.
“There is arable land but there is not much use of science and technology, but if we do, there will be more food for Africa and the rest of the world,” he said. “The demand for food is ever increasing because populations are growing as well.
”Estimations suggest that by 2050, the world population will have reached nine billion. Food supply should keep pace with increasing population as Africa is currently a food deficit continent. Our mission is to empower citizens through the provision of grants, facilitating linkages and enabling a culture of ongoing learning to civil society.”
The Smart Partnership Dialogues have since their inception in 1995 evolved from small meetings between scientists into a global movement. They have been transformed from mainly being focused on technology to embracing a diversity of thematic areas.
Besides creating a single platform about a complex issue for a diverse range of stakeholders, the biannual dialogue brings together Presidents, Prime Ministers, civil servants and leading representatives from labour, academia and business.
Its objective, according to organisers, is not to prepare and agree an action plan, but to create learning, understanding and initiate partnership that may lead to successful action.
Heads of State and Government due to take part in the Smart Partnership Dialogue in Dar es Salaam include Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Boni Yayi of Benin, Ali Omar Bongo of Gabon, Faure Gnassingbe of Togo, Ikililou Dhoinine of Comoros, Ernest Koroma of Sierra Leone, Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso, King Mswati II of Swaziland and Mahinda Rajapaska of Sri Lanka.
Also expected at the gathering are Zambian Vice President Guy Scott and Botswana Vice President Mompati Merafine, as well as Malaysian Prime Minister4 Najib Razak and his predecessor Abdullah Badawi.