Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Social media, innovation and technology CAN change the world

Last Monday 23rd September I attended the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Social Good Summit at Radisson Blu Hotel in Lusaka. The summit was all about how social media, innovation and technology can be used to make the world a better place. It brought together bloggers, press, celebrities, leaders, CEO’s, non profits and little old me. You can imagine how excited I was at the prospect of being in the same room as so many thought leaders and sponging off a little of that knowledge.

I'm the one with the huge flowers on my dress. Its a wonder we managed to listen in on the summit as we all spent it tweeting for social good!

 There were some interesting and enlightening panel discussions.

Dr Mupanga Mwanakatwe, the CEO of Zamtel, sat on the panel for “Empowering local communities through connectivity”; he seemed highly enthusiastic about making his company fit for the technological demands of our times.

Mark Bennet of iSchool spoke about the recently launched tablet, Zedupad, which, as well as other informative applications, has the entire primary school curriculum. If you haven’t heard about this interactive educational tool, visit the site. I guarantee you will be as enamoured with it as I am.

Mark Chilongu of Africa Directions told us about Photo Voice a tool that youths in Mansa are using to tell their story. His organisations ethos is about nurturing the creativity of young people and using it as a means of educating them. Lukonga Lindunda of BongoHive had a similar point of view. Their message resonated with me as our education system can be somewhat stifling and probably misses out on some of the imaginative ideas students and young people in general can have.

Someone who stood out for me was Lelemba Phiri of ZOONA. She didn’t come in with a slide show of all the things her organisation does or give us a long speech advertising their services, she told us real stories illustrating the impact ZOONA has had on small business owners who would otherwise have little access to funding. It was a lesson in how to communicate with the youth. We need meaningful discussions. Show us what you are doing in a way that we can relate to. It’s really not that difficult.

This brings me to the politicians. I talk about social issues. I’m not big on analysing every single thing that our politicians do or say but I have to mention this.

It’s absolutely awesome that politicians are getting into technology and social media. Emmanuel Mwamba, the Minister of Information and Broadcasting spoke about how government departments need to make sure their websites are updated, he was at pains to point out that he even has a Facebook account.

Here’s the thing though. Social media and technology has changed the face of political interaction. It’s no longer a one way conversation. We want to talk to the politicians too. We want to be able to see evidence of what they are doing; we want them to be prepared to explain why they are doing it and then be amenable to receiving feedback from us.

I’m not an advocate of his politics. I don’t know enough about him, but a politician who is doing an awesome job of telling his constituents what he is up to is Matero Member of Parliament Miles Sampa. Check out his Facebook page and you will see why I’ve singled him out.

I was honoured to have been invited to the Social Good Summit. 

Later on in the week I had the chance to visit an organisation that is introducing exciting, innovative methods at grassroots level.

You are going to love this! Well, I do anyway. Seeing what this organisation is doing was like having been in a classroom learning the theory and then going out into the real world to experience what it’s really all about.

The Peoples Process on Housing and Poverty in Zambia are doing an fantastic job of trying to alleviate the growing problem of inadequate low cost urban housing. They focus on community generated solutions. I’m not going to harp on too much because I've written a lot and sometimes pictures can tell the story so much better.

Here is a project that significantly cuts down the cost of building a house by using sand instead of bricks and mortar. 

1 comment:

  1. It was a great event and it was great to participate from far away via social media!