The GCT team goes on the road…to Uganda

UMCom's Global Communication Technology team recently met in Uganda for a series of meetings, including the global ICT4D Conference. (Pictured (l-r): Pacome N'gessen, Matt Crum, Chilima Karima, Shelia Mayfield, Ashley Gish, April Mercado, Pierre Omadjela). Photo courtesy of Ashley Gish.
UMCom's Global Communication Technology team recently met in Uganda for a series of meetings, including the global ICT4D Conference. (Pictured (l-r): Pacome N'gessen, Matt Crum, Chilima Karima, Shelia Mayfield, Ashley Gish, April Mercado, Pierre Omadjela). Photo courtesy of Ashley Gish.

Traveling from the Philippines, various African countries and the United States, members of the Global Communication Technology team met in Uganda for a series of meetings and to attend a gathering of global ICT4D leaders. Ashley Gish, director of strategy for the GCT team, shares this report:

The Global Communication Technology team had the opportunity to come together in a 3-for-1 trip; from April 23 to May 5, the team facilitated the United Methodist Radio Network annual meeting, conducted our annual face-to-face team strategy meeting, and attended the ICT4D Conference.

Topics at the global ICT4D conference, which was held in Kampala, Uganda, ranged from health technology to humanitarian response to digital financial inclusion to agriculture and even a drone demonstration! The sessions were a whirlwind, most lasting less than an hour and generally consisting of either an interactive presentation or a panel discussion. Each member of the GCT team chose sessions based both on our current projects and personal interests in potential future GCT team projects.

The sessions provided valuable introductions to new tools, processes, and ways of approaching program delivery; however, perhaps the most valuable moments of the conference came during the opportunities outside the sessions. In the interactive booth area, we made connections with past and potential partners and were introduced to a few tools which could have a powerful impact on our programs, especially in regards to data visualization.

The conference "was a great opportunity to meet many people who work in the ICT field around the world. So this conference was very useful for me to know that we can do even more with some of the solutions I already knew," said Pacome N'gessan, UMCom's West Africa field coordinator.

"One of my top takeaways from the 2019 ICTD4 conference in Uganda was from a presentation by Lauren Woodman, the CEO of NetHope," said Chilima Karima, senior project specialist at UMCom. "She shared on the differences of going digital and being digitized. Stating the fact that the two are different but still very important when it comes to ICT4D. She explained that being digitized involves 'instilling a discipline around core transactions and back office processes' while going digital is about 'empowering people to make decisions that they need to.'"

Shelia Mayfield, UMCom's GCT director of development, echoed Chilima's comments about the keynote presentation topic of digital vs. digitized.  "I believe that in a lot of cases people may not truly understand the difference (between digital vs. digitized). In most cases in order to become digital you must first adopt the mindset of becoming digitized."

"Attending the ICT4D training allowed me to discover many technologies being used to solve problems in our society," said Pierre Omadjela, who serves as director of communications and development of the Central Congo Episcopal area for UMCom. "One of them is the talking book Amplio. This is a device in which recorded health messages are played in the community with a specific health message for health campaigns."