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Ghana hosts Europe’s biggest digital festival in Accra

BY: Doreen Andoh
Mr Oliver Boakye (left), Special Advisor to the Minister of Environment, Science and Technology and Innovation, exchanging pleasantries with Mr Mohammed Nii Adjei Sowah (right), the Accra Metropolitan Chief Executive, after the conference
Mr Oliver Boakye (left), Special Advisor to the Minister of Environment, Science and Technology and Innovation, exchanging pleasantries with Mr Mohammed Nii Adjei Sowah (right), the Accra Metropolitan Chief Executive, after the conference

Europe is holding its biggest festival on digital society and digital culture in Accra. Known as “Re: publica”, it is the first time the festival is taking place in Africa.

The two-day festival, which opened yesterday at the International Trade Fair Centre, is being held on the theme, “Next Level,” and has assembled more than 1,000 national and international participants.

They will deliberate on issues relating to digital space and technology, and how they could facilitate the next level of development in Africa and Europe.

Issues to be discussed include digital activism, health, digital journalism, art, business, data, access, future technologies and women in technology in the digital space.

Organisation

Organised by Re:publica GmbH, in partnership with Impact Hub Accra, a Ghanaian company that supports young entrepreneurs with start-up capital, and the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, the festival is expected to help shape and promote discourse on digitalisation and social transformation in Africa and Europe

Re: publica is Europe’s biggest conference on internet and digital society. The first one took place in April, 2007.
It is a platform for bloggers and actors in the digital space to meet with other stakeholders such as politicians, scientists and entrepreneurs, among other partners.


The German Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Christoph Retzlaff (right), together with other representatives from different countries at the function. Pictures: NII MARTEY M. BOTCHWAY

Vibrancy

In a speech read on his behalf at the opening ceremony, the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, lauded the initiative and expressed gratitude to the German government for bringing Re: publica to Ghana and Africa.

He said there could be no sustainable development without digital technology and, therefore, inter-continental discourse around it was very laudable.

"Re: publica Accra is a testimony of the vibrancy of Ghana's science, technology and innovation space and sector," he said.
The Minister’s speech was read on his behalf, by his Special Advisor, Mr Oliver Boakye.

Potential

The German Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Christoph Retzlaff, said Germany and all the partners of Re: publica were proud to see the festival take place in Ghana and Africa for the first time and described the initiative as long overdue.

He said with his little over two years stay in Ghana, he could confidently say that the country was endowed with great and much potential, particularly,  in the digital space, which Europe had overlooked for years.

The envoy recommended stronger partnerships between Africa and Europe to leverage the potential of both continents to boost development.

He charged the conference to come up with more ideas that would drive the next level of development in the digitised world.

A co-founder and CEO of Impact Hub, Mr William Edem Senyo, said the digital space was a legitimate path to take in driving present-day sustainable development.

Dialogue

The German Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, Dr Gerd Müller, said Germany did not just want to talk about Africa but wanted to have a dialogue with the continent.

“That’s why representatives from the digital community in Western Africa and Germany have come together at the Re:publica Accra — to discuss and network with each other, and most of all, to learn from each other — in both directions,” he said.

Dr Müller said it was time to bridge the digital gap between the rich and the poor and between the continents. “Bringing the Re: publica to Africa marks an important step in this direction,” he said.

A co-founder and CEO of Re: publica, Mr Andreas Gebhard, said it was important for  people to work together to shape and design the digital society.

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