Technology in focus at Dar es Salaam meet

About nine Heads of Government and State are expected to join over 800 local and international participants at the Smart Partnership International Dialogue 2013 that kicks-off on Friday at the Mwalimu Nyerere International Convention Centre in Dar es Salaam.

Chief Secretary, Ambassador Ombeni Sefue

The international dialogue follows local dialogues held at zonal and national level and attended by some 500 participants, Chief Secretary Ombeni Sefue told a news conference in the city.

The dialogue was held for the last time in 2011 in Putrajaya, Malaysia with a theme “Enhancing Smart Partnership for Socio-Economic Transformation.”

“Preparations for the international meeting are in top gear and security has been beefed-up to ensure safety of participants,” Mr Sefue, flanked by the Director General of the Tanzania’s Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH), Dr Hassan Mshinda, said.

The three-day event which starts today and set to end next Monday will carry a theme; “Leveraging Technology for Africa’s Socio-economic Transformation: The Smart Partnership Way.”

“Tanzania chose the theme as it seeks to engage international stakeholders in achieving its Big Results Now initiative through science and technology,” the Chief Secretary noted.

King Mswati II of Swaziland arrived in the country on Wednesday ahead of the meeting, while the President of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa arrived. Other leaders that are expected at the meeting are Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyata, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Comoros’s President Ikililou Dhoinine as well as the President of Benin, Mr Yayi Boni.

Also on the list are presidents of Togo and Burkina Faso, Faure Gnassingbé and Blaise Compaoré, respectively in addition to presidents Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon and Ernest Koroma of Sierra Leone.

The incumbent and former prime ministers of Malaysia, Najib Razak and Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, respectively are also expected at the dialogue together with the Prime Minister of Algeria, Mr Abdelmalek Sellal.

Zambia and Botswana will be represented by vice-presidents Guy Scott and Mompati Merafhe, Mr Sefue said. Dr Mshinda told a news conference in Dar es Salaam yesterday that COSTECH has for the last one year prepared local experts to share experience with their foreign counterparts.

During the dialogue, there will be also exhibitions of technology, according to the COSTECH boss. The dialogues trace their roots back to the early 1990s when the maiden one was held in Malaysia in 1995 under the leadership of the then Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohammed.

They began as platforms for scientists to meet and discuss scientific and technological issues that were relevant all over the world. The changing geo-political space, the shrinking of the globe and increasing interconnectedness and interdependence made the idea of a sustainable open forum to discuss global topical issues a necessity.

Promoting a positive ethos of ‘prosper thy neighbour’ for a ‘win-win’ situation, the Smart Partnership Movement believes that the foundation for lasting partnerships should be anchored on a shared vision that transcends differences in cultures, beliefs, languages and value systems.

Meanwhile, PIUS RUGONZIBWA reports that President Mahinda Rajapaksa of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and his entourage arrived in the country for a two-day state visit.

Mr Rajapaksa arrived with the brief programme of his visit showing he was expected to hold talks with President Jakaya Kikwete at the State House.

The Sri Lankan leader is also expected to sign several bilateral agreements with Tanzania to strengthen economic, trade and tourism relations between the two countries.

Later on Friday, Mr Rajapaksa is expected to visit the Buddhist Temple used by Sri Lankan residents living in Dar es Salaam, before heading to the Mwalimu Nyerere International Convention Centre where he will join fellow leaders to attend the Smart Partnership Dialogue Forum.

Mr Rajapaksa is expected to leave for Seychelles for a state visit on Saturday before heading back home. His visit to the two African countries is a part of his vision of further strengthening South-South Cooperation.

At the April 2013 meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) when certain countries campaigned to relocate the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) from Sri Lanka, Tanzania remained supportive of Sri Lanka hosting the summit in November.

By ALVAR MWAKYUSA, Tanzania Daily News

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