ICT Industry Forum

The first event of Kabul Innovation Lab II is already behind us. Please find below the Agenda of Industry Forum we were enjoying yesterday. We were happy to host:

  • Deputy Minister Mobarez Rashidi from Ministry of Information and Culture
  • USAID Mission Director Dr. S. Ken Yamashita
  • General Director ICT from Ministry of Communication, Aimal Marjan,
  • MoCIT Innovation Grants Program (ISP), AIMS CEO, Mohammed Bajeeb Azizi

and other Honorable Guests and Speakers.

We will be really interested to see your comments telling us what inspirations did you find in the speeches.


Kabul Innovation Lab II is coming soon!

The second Kabul Innovation Lab is coming soon

– save the date  

 11-14 February 2013! 

Internews launched the Kabul Innovation Lab in January 2012 with the theme “Tech solutions for social impact”. It was the first event of its kind in Afghanistan, bringing together IT experts and the broader ICT community to network and discuss the emerging environment and build tech-based systems.

Kabul Innovation Lab II

The 2012 event was a great success, taking place in a dynamic creative and practical environment. See more.

It began with a networking and information sharing forum attended by more than 100 people from all sectors with an interest in ICT — government, telecommunications, NGO, humanitarian, military, business and media. Presentations included examples of the application of new technologies in Afghanistan and around the world for development, business and social enterprise.

The forum was followed by an intensive technical workshop attended by 40 participants, and focused on the up-skilling of emerging Afghan technologists in an environment where they could work in teams and collaborate with program managers and field researchers to develop “tech solutions” for six social challenges specific to Afghanistan. Seven national and international experts were at the lab to teach and mentor the teams.

Outcomes of the 2012 Kabul Innovation Lab included the design of 6 sophisticated prototypes that used technological tools such as SMS, voice interactivity, online mapping and data management for real-life application and relevance in Afghanistan. Of the 6 pilots that resulted from the lab, one has been developed to completion while the others still have the potential for development with appropriate funding and support. See the Projects page (hyperlink) for more on each of the prototypes.

Another inspirational outcome of the Lab is the establishment of iHub Afghanistan, a professional network of Afghan technologists who meet regularly to exchange ideas and build opportunities within the ICT sector. The network is expanding rapidly across the country.

Benchmarking ICT in Afghanistan

ICT Afghanistan Benchmarking: The state of Telecommunications and Internet in Afghanistan; Six Years on (2006-2012)

Just ten years ago Afghanistan had a barely functional post-war infrastructure, with no independent media and literally no telecom services. Afghans had to travel to the neighboring countries to make a phone call. Today the story is very different, as outlined in a new independent study conducted by Javid Hamdard, of Internews Network, under the USAID-funded Afghanistan Media Development & Empowerment Project (AMDEP).

Participant Profile: Wahidullah Wafi

Meet Wahidullah Wafi: ICT Manager for the Ministry of Public Health

Click for Interview

“Technology is needed in Afghanistan; all over the country. Especially the MoPH. The last two days have been very fruitful and useful for me, I learned a lot of new things. Primarily how to prepare an application for the Minister of Public Health to solve some of the health problems of our people and the problems in the Ministry.”

Participant Profile: Ferishta Fero

Meet Ferishta: Herat Based Technical Advisor

Click for Interview

“I am from Herat and I’m currently a teacher with the computer science faculty. I have a Masters from the Technical University and my Major is in database engineering.”

“I am working in an Afghan software engineering company and at the Afghan Citadel as a technical advisor. I am the head of the Herat branch of office.”

“The Kabul Innovation Lab is very impressive. I’ve seen a lot of technical people from and outside of Afghanistan. We can share ideas and we’re getting a lot of good ideas together as to how we can implement technology in Afghanistan.”

Participant Profiles: Meet Schuyler

Meet Schuyler Erle: US Based International ICT Expert

Click for interview

“The Kabul Innovation Lab has completely blown my expectations out of the water; everyone I have met is intensely committed to the work that they are doing; they are really bright and talented people.”

“The access to mobile technology really revolutionizes the opportunities we have to overcome these challenges that are faced in Afghanistan. And I have never met in my entire life a better group of people to tackle these problems than the  folks here at the lab. I think there is a way in which adversity sharpens the mind and there are some awfully sharp people here and if there is anyone who is going to solve the issues that face Afghanistan it’s going to be these guys.”

“And I hope once these guys tackle the issues that they face here, they will come help the rest of the world b/c we can surely use their brilliance.”

Everyone at the Lab is a Winner!

Governance Team Winners

Governance Team Winners

The Kabul Innovation Lab ended on a very positive note and full of surprises. Special invited guests and panel judges from international organizations, the private sector and government came to listen to the 6 group’s final presentations to see if their pitch and innovative technologies were really all that exciting as the hype over the lab has made them out to be. They were.

In fact, the four judges were so impressed that they had a hard time selecting just one winner and decided to pick three instead! Farshid Ghyasi creator of Netlinks, Javid Hamdard Internews ICT researcher, Wais Payab the director of ANDC, and Jes Petersen co-founder of Paywast sat in the front row of couches with pen and paper in hand, ready to take notes on the participant’s creations.

The Health Group 2nd Place

As the camera’s started filming and audience quieted down, Hashimi from Internews introduced the judges and announced the prizes. The winning group would be given the opportunity to present their ideas in front of the Minister of Communications and his support in apply for the World Bank $5million innovation grant. And with that statement, the presentations began.

The Agriculture Group 3rd Place

The first group was the Crisis Response team with their “IDP R U OK” project. IDP R U OK uses mobile technology for humanitarian organizations to make smarter and faster decisions to benefit the IDP population. Check out their presentation to see more…

Next was the Media team with their support of the FIX-IT project. The team created a tool that enabled communities to report problems to the Salam Watandar program FIX-IT. Once FIX-IT received the reports from the population they would be followed up and improved by the government. To see more about the tools they used check out their presentation

Crisis Response Team

The third presentation was by the Governance team. The participants created Easy Hajj; a mobile application that enables all citizens to register for Hajj and simultaneously allows the Ministry to communicate with Haji’s immediately. Check out Easy Hajj here

The Agriculture team then presented their project Dehqan which created an agriculture encyclopedia for cell phones of farmers in remote areas who need access to information like weather, market prices and crop diseases; in order to keep them more informed and successful. To see the complete presentation, click here

Following the Agriculture team was Health with their presentation on polio tracking. Their technology would assist the Polio Plus Afghanistan organization and the MoPH track the location of polio outbreaks and inform the populations about basic health information to respond to and prevent diseases. View the full presentation here

The Education Team

And lastly, the Education team presented their project in partnership with the Aga Khan Foundation. The team created a mobile application to resource teachers in their remote locations that can be used to access educational information for themselves and their students. Read more about the tools here

The presenters took seats in the back of the conference room upon the completion of their work and awaited the judge’s announcements. When the final decision was made, three groups won. In third, the Agriculture team, in second the Health team, and in first the Governance team! You can see the pictures of the all the teams on our photos page. With the completion of the lab, all participants – Afghan and international alike, were impressed with the event and requested one to be put on again in the near future. This was the first innovation lab to be held in Afghanistan, and any following event will have an impressive reputation to live up to.

The Media Team

Secure your Facebook!

Or else Bobby Soriano will log into your account and befriend himself! Today we received an informative presentation from Bobby about internet and mobile security. Apparently half of the participants did not have any security measure emplaced on their Facebook page and Bobby was able to log into their accounts in front of the entire lab.

Internet and Mobile security are extremely important; without the necessary privacy settings somebody can steal your identity!

Right now – log into your FB account. Go to your Account Settings. Go to the Left side of the screen and click Security. The very first option is Secured Browsing – make sure it is enabled! Once you have that set, then Bobby and those malicious hackers won’t be able to get into your account!

A Proud Humanitarian…

This morning Jacobo welcomed the participants to the last day of the Lab with an encouraging message.

“I’ve been working for Internews for the last five years and I have to say that I’m very impressed. It is absolutely fantastic the amount of great ideas and participation. I’m very excited for this country. You guys completely blew my mind; so thank you.”