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Arthur C Clarke remembered

Science fiction writer and visionary Sir Arthur C. Clarke died on 19 March 2008 in Colombo, Sri Lanka, at the age of 90. He was born on 16 December 1917 in Minehead, Somerset in the United Kingdom and moved to Sri Lanka; then called Ceylon, in 1956.

The international telecommunication community will remember Sir Arthur for making popular the concept of using the geostationary orbit for communications. In October 1945, Clarke published in the British magazine Wireless World a technical paper entitled “Extra-terrestrial Relays — Can Rocket Stations Give World-wide Radio Coverage?” The paper established the feasibility of artificial satellites as relay stations for Earth-based communications. Arthur C Clarke

Arthur C Clarke in 1984 at work on the film sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey, 2010: The Year We Make Contact. Photograph: Rex Features/MGM

Clarke predicted that one day communications around the world would be possible via a network of three geostationary satellites spaced at equal intervals around the Earth’s equator.

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Posted in the category: News

Africa on the move

The Africa 2008 telecommunications conference, to be held in Cairo from 12 to 15 May 2008, will welcome leading names in the ICT industry, and more than 5000 visitors. It comes at a time when increased liberalisation of markets is leading to a boom in telecommunications on the continent.

Organized by the International Telecommunications Union, ITU Telecom Africa 2008 is intended to promote the ICT industry both regionally and internationally. Five to six thousand visitors are expected to attend the event and explore the region’s ICT and telecommunication market.

The event promises a concentration of government, regulatory and private sector players, together with leading thinkers to negotiate and debate the industry’s most innovative technologies and its most significant issues.

Dr Hamadoun I. Touré“The investment climate in Africa is particularly inviting right now,” said Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, ITU Secretary-General. “Liberalised markets forge forward and demand continues at a remarkable speed.”

Referring to the successful Connect Africa Summit, Dr Touré added, “We’re certain to see further momentum on the investment commitments generated in the last six months.”

AFRICA 2008 boasts an extensive international Exhibition – a key component of ITU Telecom since its inception in 1971. Leading players from the region as well from major international companies come together with a huge display of ICT products and services at the Cairo International Conference and Exhibition Centre.

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Posted in the category: News, Technology, Trends

ITU Telecom Africa – Reaching the unreached

Haru Mutasa, Highway Africa News Agency, reporting from Cairo

Ten years ago a Japanese man, on his first visit to Egypt, asked himself why there were boomerangs in Pharaoh Tutankhamen‘s collection at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. The question puzzled him so much that when he returned to Japan he perused encyclopaedias for the answer to his question but found none.

A couple of years later, that same man, using a popular search engine on his computer, looked up the answer to his question and was left more than pleasantly surprised. “The boomerang is not unique to Australia,” he said, “It was used in several parts of Africa and even India back then.”

That man was Yoshio Utsumi, the current International Telecommunications Union (ITU) secretary general. Addressing a large delegation at the official opening of the sixth ITU Telecom Africa conference in Cairo last month, Utsumi hammered home the message that “Internet Communication Technology (ICTs) has the potential to forever change the whole world if we take the right course of action”.

This was the rationale behind the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in December last year – a rationale that will be carried forward to the second phase in Tunisia next year and was implemented at the conference in Cairo.

The Cairo conference showcased technology that could be used to improve access to African people, while the forums and debates allowed delegates to discuss possible projects to achieve this goal.

Egypt’s Minister of Communication and Information Technology, Dr Ahmed Nazif, echoed Utsumi and called on delegates at the conference to strive for an e-enabled and e-knowledgeable African society.

“Problems in Africa are severe and difficult to overcome but success stories are evident,” he said, “We must support Africa’s development through active participation. All African countries are qualified to reach this goal. But to reach it we need to work together to turn the digital gap into a digital opportunity.”

The two delegates, along with Egyptian Prime Minister Dr Atef Ebeid, officially celebrated the launch of the ITU Telecom Africa by signing a beautifully created papyrus parchment – an ancient Egyptian paper still used in some sectors of society today.

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Posted in the category: Insight

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The Big Change is a business strategy blog and newsletter published by Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx, a leading technology research organisation based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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