USAID Launches Innovation Laboratory in Kabul

News and Press Release
Originally published

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN | JANUARY 23, 2012 – The Director of Information Technology Department at the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, Mohammad Aimal Marjan, and the Director of USAID Democracy and Governance Office, David Thomson launched the Innovation Laboratory today, marking the beginning of a three-day workshop at Kabul Park Star Hotel that brings together new media experts, journalists, bloggers, civil-society leaders, and technological developers from Afghanistan and abroad.

The workshop participants will discuss the creation of local technological solutions, such as applications, tools, games, and blogs that respond to social issues in Afghanistan, and will pilot the use of these tools during the workshop.

“Afghanistan’s telecommunication sector has improved a lot during the past ten years. This innovation laboratory will help us use new technologies to solve social problems in the country,” said Director Marjan.

Organized by USAID-funded Afghanistan Media Development and Empowerment Project (AMDEP), the First Kabul Innovation Lab presents a networking opportunity for emerging information and communication technology (ICT) developers in Afghanistan, including telecommunication companies, online and social media enterprises, information technology experts, members of civil society, ISAF Telecommunications Advisory Team and representatives from the Afghan Ministry of Communication and Information Technology to showcase tools that can be used to generate social change in the health, education, citizenship, media, agriculture, and crisis-response sectors.

“Over the last ten years, we have seen an explosion of growth in Afghanistan’s media sector. Today, Afghanistan has at least 13 million cell phone users and over 1 million internet users; and there are rising numbers of bloggers and other social media users as well. These tools can be harnessed for social change, and that is why we are here,” said USAID Office Director David Thomson.

USAID Afghanistan Media Development and Empowerment Project (AMDEP) builds the capacity of local, independent media through technical support, equipment upgrades, hands-on training, business development, and strengthening of media industry institutions, networks and associations to increase media professionalism and standards of practice.