For six years executives from various sectors have come together to discuss leveraging ICT for regional integration and this year’s edition of the Connected East Africa Forum is set to take place starting March 30, 2015 to April 2, 2015 at the Leisure Lodge Golf and Resort in Diani, Kwale County, Kenya. The Forum will be host to delegates from various institutions across the East African region that will include government, academic as well as private sectors drawn from Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan, with Tanzania sitting out on this one as it has others. ICT has been identified as the key sector needed to drive all other sectors and every nation is looking towards investing in the sector as well as encouraging individuals and institutions to participate in the use of ICT in all their daily operations for better connected communities. Just last week Kenya hosted its first ICT Innovation forum to inform people of the need to use ICT in their developments and to transform their ideas into fully-fledged businesses that will create employment to the many unemployed people across the country, also pledging to come up with an innovation centre where Kenyan citizens can walk in with their projects and get help on how to scale them into the global markets. The forum saw nation changing ideas get showcased and solutions that are set to disrupt the industry take centre stage at the Innovation village, with each and every one demonstrating how their solutions are using ICT to make it easy and efficient for people to solve the problems they face on a daily basis. Now through the Connected East Africa forum, governments are set to discuss and come up with recommendations on how the five nations can invest in ICT to achieve a more integrated community where business and trade is done easily and effectively, providing security and safety along the way as well as providing a better platform for IT exports. “ICT continues to play a major role in the economic, political, social and cultural development of our country. Technology has increased efficiency, transparency and is cutting costs whether in startups, Multi-nationals or government,” said Victor Kyalo, CEO, ICT Authority. Kyalo added that the forum will, in its seventh edition widen its market to cover more residents in the region, providing a solution to the growing economies that often get caught between investing in basic amenities for its citizens and getting funds for ICT infrastructure. The summit will be held under the theme “The strength is in our networks”, and will focus on fulfilling various objectives that include; addressing gaps in ICT integration and shared infrastructure among East African Member States, Speeding up harmonization of ICT regulation, building support on ongoing ICT integration projects and providing a platform for meaningful networks. With the Kenya government having announced in its Innovation forum held last week that it would be seeking to continue partnering the private sector to scale innovations and having been selected as the forum’s host, Microsoft Corporation has emerged as the lead sponsor of the Connected East Africa Forum, with others being SEACOM, Dimension Data, Huawei, Konza Techno City, HP and Liquid Telecom. The forum invites innovators to submit their innovations by March 15, 2015 for recognition at an award ceremony during the summit, with those who registered for the ICT innovation forum held last week having their projects nominated automatically. Registration to attend the invite-only event is currently open until March 20, 2015.