Friday, October 28, 2005

A Week in Brussels: Diamond content

Last night I was the guest of the Belgian World Summit Award ceremony in Belgian city of Gand (Gent), a 40 minutes ride out of Brussels by train. I was invited by the national expert and Grand Jury member Rudi Vansnick to speak on the World Summit Award (WSA).

It was good to see Rudi, who is also chairman of the Belgian ISOC, again after the Bahrain Grand Jury. He had just been in Bangladesh and met WSA colleagues over there: Alexander, Josie, Andy and of course MD, who was part of the organization of the Road2Tunis event in Dakka. The WSA delegation met amongst other minister Khan. I met him in Hong Kong and I admire that man. He dares to say in a developing country that the country needs computers and not weapons.

The Belgian WSA ceremony started with speeches from dignitaries on the content gap and the digital divide. Surprising was for me to hear the concern that Belgium needs to catch up with ICT. And some of the statistics which Rudi presented were indeed worrisome. Belgium has 11 million inhabitants. Of the households 99 per cent has a TV and 57 per cent has a PC. There are 2,1 million internet connections and 5 million internet users (consumers and business). I do not have the figures at hand, but these statistics are lower in comparison with the Dutch stats. The 99 per cent household coverage of TV is an interesting piece of data. In the Flemish part of Belgium, the company Telenet is now rolling out interactive TV, amongst others with Powerline technology. So in a year’s time the stats might be quite different.

The diamond award

The WSA ceremony itself was a kind of special. At the ceremony awards were handed out for being nominated as the Belgian entry to the Grand Jury. In the meantime we know that none of the 7 entries made it, but they did well as at least remained in the last 20 of the selection. However this disappointment was made up for by the award. No plexiglass award, but a diamond. Belgian and especially Antwerp are famous for diamonds. To a lesser extent Gand is known for diamonds, especially the diamonds with a Lion cut. In his laudation Rudi compared the diamonds to content. They are a symbol of creativity, while their qualities also compare to content:

Diamond qualities: Colour, Cut, Clarity and Carat
Content qualities: Cultural, Convergence, Community, Comprehensiveness

After the ceremony there was a reception with local beers. I got a lift from two Belgian government officials back to Brussels. We parted with saying: see you in Tunis.

Belgian WSA national expert Rudy Vansnick (left) next to a representative of Bobex, winner in the e-Business category, proudly showing his diamond

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