The kick-off event on the evening prior to the re: publica in the Pan Am Lounge in Berlin

„Into the Wild“

6/7/8 May 2014 | Station | Berlin | Germany

Friends of the digital society gathered in Berlin for the eighth time at the largest blogger and internet conference in the world – the re:publica. Around 6,000 people registered to participate at the event this year under the “Into the Wild” motto. From May 6 to 8, net activists, bloggers, advertisers, interested parties and researchers met at a former postal freight station in Berlin-Kreuzberg. A total of 500 speakers appeared at the around 350 individual events. Surveillance on the internet was the central theme of the re:publica 2014.

This was the first year the “Global Innovation Gathering” (GIG) was launched by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) as part of the re:publica. Representatives from innovation hubs – primarily from Africa, but also from Asia and Latin America – were invited to come to Berlin and present their initiatives and ideas, network with one another, and participate in the re:publica discussions.

Innovation hubs are points of contact for entrepreneurs, investors, business developers and creative minds looking to realise innovative business ideas and products. They also serve as talent factories for the job market and incubators for start-ups. The programme for the around 55 international GIG participants was organised by the Development Policy Forum on behalf of the BMZ in cooperation with the re:publica and the GIZ’s “Global Knowledge Sharing and Learning” Division. It also included a “makerspace”, a kind of laboratory where re:publica visitors could see how a mobile phone charger or handheld laser cutter could be made from simple components. The programme also encompassed a conversation in the Bundestag at which the Director of “Afrilabs”, a division head from the Rwandan Ministry for Youth and ICT and GIZ representatives took part with selected Bundestag representatives, talking about the challenges and opportunities digitalisation presented for international cooperation and the GIZ’s work in this area.

BMZ State Secretary Dr Friedrich Kitschelt opened the GIG on May 6. In his address an audience of around 400, he referred to digitalisation and the internet as “powerful tools” with a powerful effect in developing countries in particular: “In social media, the issues at hand include the public sphere, community, and the role of the state” The internet and social media could make considerable contributions to good governance, he noted. Kitschelt reported that the BMZ had set up a special unit on “Education and the Digital World” to pay homage to the key role of the internet and social media.

GIZ Management Board Member Cornelia Richter subsequently discussed the potential of digitalisation for international cooperation with the innovation hub representatives. She noted that it was important to promote this type of network to ensure the dissemination of knowledge and ideas, adding: “When attempting to solve global problems, we come up against our limits. So we have to bring as many people as possible on board.”

On the final day of the re:publica, a stage for “DCA and Digital Worlds” was set up as part of the GIG.

In addition to two podium discussions and an event on the eve of the re:publica, the Development Policy Forum also organised the delegation visit of Global Innovation Gathering participants.

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