From November 2018 to January 2019, UNESCO held the Central Asian YouthMobile Contest challenging and leading youth in developing Free and Open Source solutions in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Twelve mobile phone applications were developed throughout the competition by sixteen young app developers aged 16-28 from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The Contest particularly encouraged the participation of young girls and women, contributing to highlight the under-representation of women in the technology sector, including in Central Asia. The final female participation rate of 87.5% demonstrates the success of UNESCO’s effort to promote gender equality through empowering girls with digital skills. The 14 female participants in the competition built and submitted eleven open source applications.
UNESCO Almaty awarded the first place prize to “AIR – Advance in Robotics”, a complex application was developed by heart<bR>ers, a team of five girls from Kazakhstan (Nargiz Askarbekkyzy, Lyubov Dudchenko, Medina Shuriyeva, Diana Smagulova, Zhaniya Amangaliyeva). The app teaches coding and robotics. The members of the winning team, all young girls innovators thanked UNESCO for winning a computer for the first place in the YouthMobile competition. “We are going to use it among our heart<bR>ers team, further develop our application, and make it easier for children to be interested in robotics coding”, said Lyubov Dudchenko on behalf of the winning team.
During the final ceremony in Alamaty, Kazakhstan, last January, five other apps were given special recognition as some of the best in the contest, offering a great range of solutions relating to local communities. The top-performing apps include:
“Machmuai testho”: an analogue of the universal knowledge testing in Tajik and Russian languages;
“Alippe”: an augmented reality 3D app for books for children;
“Toktogul”: a community-based medium that fights against inequality;
“Kazahk Latin Converter”: a translator of texts from Kazak Cyrillic to Latin script;
“Zvook”: a hearing aid that recognizes and transfers the danger and specific sounds into vibration and light.
These applications, most of which are already available on Google Play store or App Store, propose ideas relevant to SDG 4 on Education, SDG 8 on Sustainable economic growth, SDG 9 on Innovation and SDG 10 on Inequalities.
The YouthMobile contest was organized by the UNESCO Office in Almaty to encourage the development of open solutions in Central Asia, promoting access to information and sustainable development, and involving youth in building solutions to local community and addressing the Sustainable Development Goals.
The UNESCO YouthMobile initiative deploys and supports projects worldwide to promote training in digital technical skills and abilities among young women and men.
EU plans to invest €9.2 billion in key digital technologies
The Digital Europe Programme is a new €9.2 billion funding programme whose goal is to ensure that all Europeans have the skills and the infrastructure needed to meet a full range of digital challenges.
It is part of a strategy to further develop the digital single market, which could help to create four million jobs and boost the EU’s economy with €415 billion every year while increasing the EU’s international competitiveness.
“For too many years, Europe’s tech sector has lagged behind third countries such as the US and China. We need a coherent Union-wide approach and an ambitious investment to secure a solution to the chronic mismatch between the growing demand for the latest technology and the available supply in Europe,” said Austrian ALDE member Angelika Mlinar, one of the MEPs repsonsible for steering the plans through Parliament.
A part of the budget would be allocated to encourage small and medium-sized enterprises and public administrations to use technology more often and better, while other parts will cover strategically important fields such as supercomputers, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.
“We can count on European excellence when it comes to research and innovation, but our businesses, especially SMEs, still found it difficult to access and take advantage of new solutions,” said Milnar. “This programme has been crucially designed to tackle the low take-up of existing testing technologies. We are on track to deliver one of the most promising and necessary funds for Europe’s future.”
UNIDO and Iran to develop ICT value chain
The Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), LI Yong, today met with Javad Azari Jahromi, Minister of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) of the Islamic Republic of Iran, who announced a self-funded project to be implemented by UNIDO within the framework of its 2017-2021 Country Programme.
The US$1 million project will seek to boost the Iranian ICT value chain with the aim of creating local employment opportunities as well as to promote the regional economic integration of Iranian start-ups and SMEs. The project was designed to support the country’s sixth 5-year development programme that places a strategic focus on ICT.
“The partnership between Iran and UNIDO builds on the Organization’s track record in boosting the performance of private sector producers through the promotion of industrial linkages and diversification, including by creating a favourable investment climate and a conducive environment for start-ups and fast-growing organizations,” said Director General LI Yong.
Minister Azari Jahromi added: “Taking into account the rapid progress achieved by the Islamic Republic of Iran in different aspects of ICT during the recent years as well as swelling number of very talented and well-educated specialized Iranian young generation in this field, it is due time to boost our regional cooperation with neighbouring countries. To that end, we intend to develop an effective partnership with UNIDO as the UN agency with the primary mandate to enhance industrial development. I trust that UNIDO’s vast technical expertise and capacities and policy advisory services will ensure the effectiveness and sustainability of the aforementioned programme, which at the end will be beneficial for our whole region.”
The current UNIDO-Iran Country Programme covers a range of cooperation areas to promote inclusive and sustainable industrial development in the country, including business development and sustainable job creation, the integration of local industries in global production networks and investment promotion, the development of agricultural and industrial value chains and support to meeting commitments under the Montreal Protocol as well as other international agreements for safeguarding the environment.
Harnessing the potential of Industry 4.0 tech to improve e-commerce
“Cutting-edge technologies and institutions can empower manufacturers to customize their products and services to their customers’ needs; as ‘smart’ ecosystems are being established, e-commerce connects smart factories with smart societies,” said Frank van Rompaey, Representative of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in Geneva, at a thematic session on “Industry 4.0 and E-commerce” held during UNCTAD’s eCommerce Week 2019.
Organized by UNIDO, the thematic session explored how Industry 4.0 can enhance e-commerce services and benefits. The panelists touched upon the potential economic and social transformations arising from the Fourth Industrial Revolution; identified applications of Industry 4.0 technologies in e-commerce; and shared best practices, experiences and solutions to enhance consumer experience when engaging with e-commerce.
“E-commerce will be a key driver for both the Fourth Industrial Revolution and seizing the opportunities of the African Free Trade Area,” said Alastair Tempest, CEO at Ecommerce Forum Africa. “The union of e-commerce with Industry 4.0 technologies can address the logistical flow of goods in Africa, promote financial technology solutions, enhance customer service and facilitate the growth of digital businesses.”
Taking the example of Brazil, the CEO of ENEXT Gabriel Lima, said: “Only 2 per cent of Brazil’s industrial sector is prepared for Industry 4.0, but this sector is gaining traction,” pointing to the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on the iFood platform to provide customers with customized restaurant recommendations and increase the efficiency of order approvals. “E-commerce is asset light and cheap, and therefore a very good starting point to drive Industry 4.0 development in Brazil as well as globally,” added Lima.
Speaking from a consumer’s perspective, Julien Grollier from CUTS International discussed the risks brought by the Internet of Things for consumers related to personal data protection, digital rights management, competition effects, and liability and responsibility chains. “Consumers must play an active role in policy dialogue formulation, increase awareness of their rights; improve their digital literacy,” said Grollier.
Experiences and lessons learned from the private sector relevant to standardization, digital manufacturing, transparent logistics and information interconnection were also discussed during the session.
The Vice President of Sinopec Europa GmbH, Suoyu Zhang, presented the example of China: “Early adoption of e-commerce has now resulted in inclusive development in most sectors within the country. E-commerce has supported the digitization of enterprises and consumers and led to the implementation of efficient and effective digital supply chains.”
Under the theme “From Digitalization to Development”, UNCTAD’s eCommerce Week emphasized the necessity to break down silos among institutions, government representatives and policy makers for an effective contribution of e-commerce towards sustainable development.
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