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EAI International Conference on ICT for Development for Africa

September 25–27, 2017 | Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

Prof. Mammo Muchie

Title: Making Africa’s Integrated Sustainable Development through New Innovation System 


More resources still flow out of Africa than what comes in from outside. Africa is a donator and it is not donated. Africa too develops those who claim to donate to Africa by a huge amount of its wealth flowing out without interruption. There is a need without fail to find new, creative and innovative ways to create an integrated sustainable development path by using the innovation system approach now more at a time when the world is now going through exponential technology, digitalisation and the knowledge economy that has earned the description of the 4th industrial revolution. Still, Africa is in the mineral, raw material, and agricultural value chain at a time when the global value chain is driven by the exponential technology driven with digital, nanotechnology, biotechnology and cognitive technology.

Africa cannot copy the economic growth linear path that has brought nature damage and unemployment, inequality, and poverty.  We need to innovate an economic system with validation criteria where nature, human and economic gains are the output to measure productivity. Africa has to break out of the narrow only for profit global value chain. It must go for co-evolution not a linear path of both profit and non-profit social and nature wellness gains. A new transformative innovative economic path that combines nature and social wellbeing is urgently required. A new innovation imagination is needed to bring about a totally new humane and green innovative economic growth. Wellbeing multiplication not subtraction, nature safety rather than damage must re-engineer the whole African innovative economic growth future. A new innovation and sustainable and integrated system that synthesises with creativity and innovation state with private, market with planning and economics with politics, to make profit with non-profit and social entrepreneurship, not individual entrepreneurship is critical to make a  new sustainable integrated African development system by embedding a total invention, innovation, learning culture. Africa has to embark on a new co-evolutionary path by applying knowledge, learning, innovation, competence building for developing a sustainable integrated African knowledge economy. A new Pan African innovation system by learning and building from the past inventions, innovation by using Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to create jobs for the youth in Africa and transform the agriculture, mineral and raw material economy is critical. The keynote will address how the new transformative innovation system approach can be applied to generate a new co-evolutionary integrated and sustainable African development to move Africa from the raw material, mineral, and agriculture value chain to the knowledge economy global value chain.


Professor Mammo Muchie holds a DPhil in Science, Technology, and Innovation for Development (STI&D) from the University of Sussex. UK. He is currently a DST/NRF rated Research Professor at the Faculty of Management Sciences, Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa. He is a fellow of the South African Academy of Sciences and the African Academy of Sciences. He is also currently adjunct Professor at the Adama Science, Technology University, Arsi University, Addis Ababa University and University of Gondar, Ethiopia. He has been senior research associate at the SPMTDC programme and also has become Senior Research Associate at the TMD Centre of Oxford University. He is collaborating with researchers (DILIC) on the potential research areas of Africa-China industrial high-technology sectors. He has been invited as Associate Faculty professor at Sussex University, UK for the next three years; at the University of Economics in Prague as visiting professor, Jawarahal Nehru University India, Tonji and Shanghai University, China; Honorary Professor Jiaxing University, China, Assistant Professor Amsterdam University, Visiting Professor Carleton College, USA; Principal Lecturer, Middlesex University, Professor, Aalborg University; Part–time Lecturer, Cambridge University; Honorary Professor UNISA. Professor Mammo held various positions globally, including the Director of the Research Programme on Civil Society and African Integration at the then University of Kwa Zulu-Natal; board member at the North-Western University, Chengdu, China

He is currently the chairman of the advisory board of African Talent hub of the Community Interest Company (registration no.10461990) to raise funds for making Africa the talent, innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity and knowledge hub of the world. He has been appointed as special distinguished advisor to the Africa Union's Student Council and a mentor for the African Entrepreneurship award. He has initiated the African Unity for Renaissance and Knowledge Exchange series of conferences since the last six years. He is a founding scientific advisor to ´the African Solar network, founding chairman of the Network of Ethiopian scholars. He has lead the SIDA,Sweden-fundedd research on engineering design and on transformative innovation for African integrated development and educate on public media to speed up the creation of innovative and renascent Africa. He is also a co-founding member of the Nano Technology Institute in TUT leading the innovation side of the research.

He is a founding board member of Globelics, focusing research on the challenges of building African innovation systems. He has promoted Africa and highlighted African Innovation and Development in Globelics foundation. He has served as scientific board members in a variety of networks including ICAT, Medalics as part of the founding scientific board member of the network that connects North Africa, with the Middle East and Southern Europe, co-founder of the Africalics network. He taught over 400 doctoral candidates in doctoral academies across the world in the Globelics, Africalics, Cicalics, Indialics networks. He has taken major initiatives for running Doctoral and Masters Academy in various universities in Africa and all over the world. One such academy is recently organised by the Association of Common Wealth Universities. Also, he has been invited for many keynote addresses and lectures in Africa and world-wide.
Perhaps one of the most significant contributions to promote the emerging field on innovation studies in Africa was the South African research Chairs Initiative (SARChI). The first chair on Innovation Studies supported by the DST/NRF in South Africa was awarded to him to promote doctoral and post-doctoral research in Africa.

Prof. Mammo is the chief editor and in the editorial board of many scholarly international journals. His positions in the scholarly journals are as follows; Founder Editor- in- Chief: African Journal of Science, Technology, Innovation and Development, Taylor and Francis; Founder Chief editor, The Ethiopian Electronic Journal for Research & Innovation Foresight (Ee-JRIF); Editor, Journal of Agriculture and Economic Development, Founder Editor in chief of the new journal of Creativity, Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship; Editor: Journal of Development and Agricultural Economics, Academic Journals; Editor: Innovation and Development, Taylor and Francis; Editorial Board member of The Nexus Innovation Journal, Tshwane University of Technology; Institute and Economics (Formally Known as International Journal of Institution and Economics), University of Malaya; Ethiopian Journal of Business and Economics (The), African Journals Online; Journal of Social and Economic Development: Official Publication of Institute for Social and Economic Change; Journal of China and International Relations (CIR) , Aalborg University; Politikon: South African Journal of Political Studies, Taylor and Francis; Financial Innovation, Springer; Social Epistemology, A Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Policy, Taylor and Francis.


He has been a scientific and academic advisor to the local e-Governance research that involved ten African countries on ICT&D funded by IDRC and managed by CAFRAD. He has been appointed as a consultant on UNESCO’s higher education, Research and Knowledge forum. He has served as a post-doctoral mentor in the NRF national postdoctoral Forum.
He has published in the areas of: international political economy, development economics of innovation and the making of African systems of innovation, and new technologies and development across disciplines. Since 1985, he has produced over 375 publications, including books, chapters in books, and articles in internationally accredited journals and entries in institutional publications. (see

Dr Timnit Gebru

Title: The Importance of AI Research in Africa


Artificial intelligence (AI) is currently one of the most in demand fields. It promises advances in health care, education, agriculture, and sociological studies. Dr Timnit’s research covered by the Economist and other news outlets showed that computer vision applied to Google Street View images could be used to predict income, per capita carbon emission, crime rates and other city attributes in 200 American cities. Her research has also been presented in premier international conferences such as AAAI, CVPR, CHI, ICCV and others which she would like to see participation from African Institutions. A recent AI for good conference organized by the UN in Geneva had 2 black speakers and none of them were researchers working in Africa. In this talk, Dr Timnit will outline the potential of AI to help young researchers work on issues relevant to the African continent. She will also discuss some efforts in various parts of the continent towards this end, and stress the importance of increasing African participation in the field of Artificial Intelligence. Artificial intelligence needs to be seen as a system. And the people creating the technology are a big part of the system. If African researchers are excluded from its creation, this technology will benefit a few while leaving out a great many. And if a small percentage of the world's population dominate this important field (as is happening now), digital exclusion within and between countries and inequality in technology usage will continue to increase. This will happen not only due to the automation caused by AI, but also due to the fact that the problems it solves will be irrelevant to most of the world's population. Therefore, it is important that countries aggressively invest resources into educating our youth, and using Artificial Intelligence to develop some of the solutions that will help us achieve our goals of digital inclusion, industrialization and the socio economic development of the African continent.


Dr Timnit is a young role-model and a PhD graduate from the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Her main research interest lies in data mining large scale publicly available images to gain sociological insight, and working on computer vision problems that arise as a result. The Economist and others have recently covered part of her work. Some of the computer vision areas she is interested in include fine-grained image recognition, scalable annotation of images, and domain adaptation. Prior to joining Stanford Artificial Intelligence lab she worked at Apple designing circuits and signal processing algorithms for various Apple products including the first iPad. She also spent one year as an entrepreneur under the Runway program operated by Innovation Endeavors. Her research is supported by the NSF foundation GRFP fellowship and currently the Stanford DARE fellowship. At present Dr Timnit is a postdoctoral researcher at Microsoft Research, New York working in the Fairness Accountability Transparency and Ethics (FATE) group.


Prof. Michael Gasser

Title: ICTs, the Linguistic Digital Divide, and the Democratization of Knowledge


Human development depends on knowledge. People improve their lives by acquiring knowledge from others or by collaborating with others to create knowledge. Knowledge acquisition requires access to interpretable information. Collaborative knowledge creation requires that the people involved have the capacity to share information that is interpretable to all the participants.

The democratization of knowledge refers to processes that promote knowledge acquisition and collaborative knowledge creation among people who have been denied these possibilities. Three great technological revolutions have contributed to the democratization of knowledge: the invention and spread of writing, the invention and spread of printing, and especially the digital revolution. While the democratization of knowledge may have been part of the promise of the digital revolution, the reality has been disappointing, and a significant proportion of the world’s population, numbering in the billions, remains marginalized with respect to their capacities for knowledge acquisition and collaborative knowledge creation.

Language plays a significant role in this global inequity. The Linguistic Digital Divide (LDD) separates speakers of the small number of relatively privileged languages like English, Spanish, German, Chinese, and Japanese, from speakers of the great majority of relatively disadvantaged languages, including many in Africa and Asia that are spoken by tens of millions of people. The LDD inhibits these people’s access to the interpretable information required for knowledge acquisition and the capacity for sharing information with speakers of other languages that is required for cross-linguistic collaborative knowledge creation.

The news is not all bad, however. Machine translation, computer-assisted human translation, and cross-language information retrieval have already begun to revolutionize the way information can be shared across languages. Given the right priorities, I will argue that research in these areas could begin to bridge the LDD and greatly further the democratization of knowledge.


Michael Gasser is Associate Professor Emeritus in the School of Informatics and Computing and the Cognitive Science Program at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA. He received his PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1988 and taught computer science, linguistics, and cognitive science courses at Indiana University from 1988 to 2012. His research has spanned the areas of computational morphology, machine translation, language acquisition, neural network modeling, sound symbolism, artificial life, the teaching of cognitive science, Amharic grammar, and models of musical rhythm. He currently focuses on the development of open-source tools for computer-assisted translation and morphological processing for under-resourced languages, especially in Ethiopia and Paraguay, and on the implications of language technology for the democratization of knowledge.

Dr Fisseha Mekuria

Title:  5G & Industry 4.0 for Emerging Economies


           The 5th generation wireless ICT technology eco-system being standardized through a public private partnership (5GPPP) recent releases, describe three distinct pillars of technology, that aim to address; (a) Enhanced mobile broadband enabling gigabit ICT based Industry 4.0 services such as remote diagnostics, and video-on-demand, (b) Low network latency enabling critical infrastructure and control services for industry 4.0 applications, such as driverless cars; and (c) Energy efficiency and network coverage to enable the 50 billion sensing devices, machine-2-machine (M2M) communications and Internet of Things devices and services. The three pillars of the 5G ICT eco-system clearly indicate that the base technology for accelerating industry 4.0 based services and knowledge based industry is inherent in 5G.  Hence the development of the new knowledge based economy requires a new assessment of the enabling policy and regulations that will have a significant impact for emerging economies. To address digital inclusion of underserved and digitally excluded rural communities in emerging markets, there is a need to devise innovative policy and regulatory frameworks to accelerate research and innovations and be able to partake in the upcoming 5th generation ICT supported industrialization and build their knowledge economy.

              The recent call for industrialization of Africa needs a clear policy direction with respect to the upcoming 5th Generation ICT eco system. Technologies in the 5th generation ICT standards are geared towards enabling ICT supported and knowledge based industrialization where an integrated view of societal and industry based services share the same cloud based and all-encompassing data intensive and cyber physical system. With this in mind technology sectors such as Intelligent Transportation systems, Smart & Safe Cities, Cloud and Artificial Intelligence supported electronic education and health information systems, industrial automation and smart-grid power generation systems share optimally data that is collected both realtime and non-realtime using the internetworking 50 billion sensor devices. This implies that the protection, access and dissemination of collected information pertaining to the well-functioning of a society and its economic growth should be guided by a policy that enables protection and at the same time quick and open access for datamining and decision making. Countries and international organizations all over the world are grappling on how this can be done in an efficient way.


Dr. Fisseha Mekuria, Chief Research Scientist, CSIR Meraka ICT Institute, South Africa. ( He leads the 5G and Affordable Broadband Networks research at the CSIR. He is the proponent of a 4th leg for the 5G standards aimed at technologies for addressing the next billion underserved population in emerging economies. He has a PhD from Linköping University, in Sweden, and has a past as senior research Engineer at Ericsson Mobile Communications R&D lab in Sweden. Where he developed several Patents. He has published extensively in the IEEEand is author of several book chapters.  He is a senior member of the IEEE and holds a an Adj. Professor position at the University of Johannesburg, Electrical and Electronics Engineering Science, Johannesburg, South Africa.