On Wednesday April 3 a meeting was called by the US Department of
State for the United States International Telecommunications Advisory
Committee (ITAC) Ad Hoc on the implementation of the Leland
Initiative: Africa Global Information Infrastructure Gateway. The
meeting began at 10:00 a.m. and lasted until noon in the Loy
Henderson Auditorium, Department of State, 2201 "C" Street, NW.,
The purpose of ITAC is to advise the Department on policy, technical
and operations matters and to provide strategic planning
recommendations with respect to international telecommunications and
information issues. (from the meeting announcement)
The purpose of the Ad Hoc Committee is to advise the U.S. Government
on the Leland Initiative, a multi-year program to support full
Internet connectivity in up to twenty African nations. (from the
I took a few notes. These notes are not complete, and represent only
what was of interest to me personally. These are not official notes,
and should not be considered an official record of the proceedings.
The Loy Henderson Auditorium is a large room, reminding me a bit of
some of the grander meeting rooms at the United Nations Building,
with a high ceiling, a raised dais seating perhaps 20 people at the
head table. The head table on the raised dais is one side of a
rectangle. The other three sides are polished tables with
microphones every meter or so, with comfortable chairs and outlets
for headphones. In the back of the room behind darkened glass
windows are chairs for the press and translators. Rising up around
the central tables in ampitheater style are more rows of tables plus
chairs behind them for aides and staff. Over the doors are outlines
of stylistic Bald Eagles, the national bird and symbol of the USA.
A line formed at the door as visitors registered their names and
email addresses. Coffee was available across the hall, and some with
cups in their hands glanced at the "No Food or Drink" sign by the
door as they took their seats in the auditorium.
By the time the meeting was called to order, there were perhaps 140
people in the room. That number swelled to perhaps 160 within the
next hour. I'm told that 150 non-USAID and non-State Department
persons attended the meeting.
I sat to one side at the last row of tables. I laid my bag on the
table and inadvertantly turned on my microphone. Someone pointed
that out to me several minutes later. I don't know how many people
listened to me greet friends and acquaintences on the auditorium
speakers. To avoid future mishaps, I pointed the microphone away
from me, but was later embarassed when an ambassador bumped into it,
almost spilling her coffee.
I sat next to Kerry Gallivan of Satellife, one of the many NGO
representatives in the room. It was a pleasure to put a face to the
name I'd known for so long. I also sat next to Bob Barad, but of
course I see him every day.
Around the room were representatives of the Carnegie Foundation, the
American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the
National Academy of Science. There was also the Internet Society,
Foor for the Hungry, the International Telecommunications
Consortium, the Minority Business Consortium, Online Africa, and
various consulting firms. The National Library of Medicine was there,
with ATT, Motorola, and Dell Beta Systems. There was Howard
University, the University of North Carolina, Dartmouth University,
and George Mason University.
There were also a few ambassadors from Africa in the room. The
Ambassador from Tanzania made a statement later in the meeting. I'm
told that many ambassadors from Africa were invited to attend.
The attendees listed here are just the ones that said something
during the meeting, so I was able to jot down the names of their
organizations. Some spoke rather fast, so I would not be at all
surprised if I didn't transcribe their names correctly. Many more
were at the meeting. I have not seen the registration list, but I'm
told it will be made available.
In the next few postings, I'll jot down some of the things I heard
said at the meeting.
Jeff @ Washington, DC USA
AfricaLink -- http://www.info.usaid.gov/alnk