Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) have a profound effect on society and the world. They fuel the knowledge economy and create possibilities, innovation and sustainable economic empowerment. We only advance as a society, as a planet, as businesses and as governments when all people can reap the full benefits of technologies as an enabling tool for development.
Over the last few decades, there has been massive growth in technological development and opportunities that have continued to transform people’s lives. The benefits of access to ICTs can be found across all major sectors. For young people, access to information means better access to education, capital, markets and training needed to pursue a career; increased participation in political processes, and recognition of youth as responsible citizens in today’s and tomorrow’s societies. Technologies– specifically ICTs – have played a central role in young people’s rise to prominence on a global scale. Access to ICTs have helped them mobilize and collaborate and given them a voice where there was none before. It has brought them together in response to social concerns. It has connected them across vast geo-political barriers and challenged them by pioneering the use of ICTs in various fields. ICT has also created provisions for governments at all levels to increase the efficiency of government operations and services by means of the internet while helping them develop new channels of communication to engage youth in creative and meaningful ways. These benefits offered by ICTs are however directly impacted by our ability to create and advance the necessary capabilities for their successful adoption and utilization. As such, it is important to appreciate that working models of ICT adoption must be customized and adapted to local environment to harmonize such efforts with all necessary relevant factors, such as ICT readiness levels, ICT strategies, ICT master plans, ICT usage and ICT impact, to achieve sustainable and sufficient development. Our hope is to bring together the next generation of digital innovators to reflect, discuss and share the global challenges of today and tomorrow and how ICTs can play a role in addressing those challenges.
We have decided to host the Summit on ICTs and related social innovation in the Middle East and North Africa’s region for several reasons. First of all, 30% from all the population of the region is young people. Secondly, many countries of the region have already adopted action plans declaring universal and affordable access to telecommunications and ICTs as an essential precondition for the world’s sustainable economic, social and cultural development, as well as transformation towards information society.
The Summit is designed to bring together governmental entities, media agencies, public administrations, religious institutions, universities, civil society, NGOs and of course, youth.