Enjoy the conference and when you leave it, please try to change the world

Social media report from the Spark conference

 27 May 2013, Granada

Spark 2013 was the conference that many of us have been looking forward to. Over a thousand people from the information and communication technology for development (ICT4D) sector as well as private, public, and nonprofit organizations from around the globe participated in the sessions, wandering around, sharing their experience, exploring different cases and hunting for new projects ideas here in Granada under one roof of the Palacio de Congresos.

Hosted in Europe for the first time, Spark is the fourth Global Forum on Telecentres, with previous events held in Tunisia (2005), Malaysia (2007), and Chile (2011). 

The conference was opened by an inspiring speech of Miguel Ramilla, the director of Telecentre.org Foundation. He highlighted the role of Telecentres: “Enjoy the conference and when you leave it, please try to change the world!“. Participants of the conference also were greeted by Spanish Government representatives, by Microsoft’s Akkhtar Badshah, Vice President of Digital Agenda for Europe Neelie Kroes  and many others.

After the plenary session all event participants chose the topic most relevant for them, that is how I went to youth session. The speakers were really well prepared and all had interesting presentations for the sessions. Clara Centeno (European Commission) introduced the audience to the research outcomes on how ICT impacts youth at risk of exclusion. She highlighted that one quarter of the young population in Europe (15-29 y.o.) is at risk of exclusion in terms of work and studies. To address this high number Clara Centeno named 3 proposals for action:

1. Fight digital divide, from ICT skills to digital competences

2. Broad View to Digital competences

3. Holistic approach to individual needs


The youth Entrepreneurship session was the place to hear an inspiring speech by Roxana Widmer-Illescu from International Telecommunication Union. At the same session, Melissa Pailthorp, Senior Manager of Microsoft Citizenship Europe, provided the audience with her experience in working with Microsoft Citizenship program. She gave vivid examples how appropriate programs and close partnership between the sectors can create synergy in creating added value to the communities and encouraging the entrepreneurship.

In the same session the different entrepreneurship encouraging cases from Guatemala and Latvia were introduced. Dr. Signe Balina, the President of LIKTA, highlighting the role of telecentres said: "You have to dare to run your own business, be self-confident. Telecentre is the place to encourage young people to do it".

The first day was ended very nicely on the roof of the  venue with wonderful view, delicious food and gold-worth conversations.

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