On the 2nd Day of the Trip to Mali;
Dr. Sadigh Met with Mali's Minister of Communications, Digital Economy, and State Modernization
At the beginning of this meeting, Mr. Mamadou Harouna Touré welcomed the Iranian delegation to Bamako; "Thanks to the active diplomacy of the Iranian Embassy in Mali, we can experience good cooperation between the two countries of Iran and Mali in various fields, and considering the official policy of the current government, we welcome any development in this sort of cooperation, especially in regarding digital economy," he said.
"We already had good online correspondence with ICT Park. It is worth mentioning that we are in the early stages of setting up a "digital city" twenty kilometers from Bamako, and, given your experiences in this field, we welcome any cooperation with you for the development of this "digital city"," Mali's Minister of Communications, Digital Economy, and State Modernization added.
"Currently, the size of the global information network economy is 5000 billion dollars, and Iran's share of this economy, with one percent of the world's population, is estimated to be 50 billion dollars. Mali's share is about 10 billion dollars. Currently, we have reached about one-fifth of this potential in Iran. On the other hand, this technology plays a very important role in forming the culture and governing the society. It can be said that anyone who controls the internet and cyberspace in a country, also owns public opinion," Dr. Mohammad Jafar Sadigh Damghanizadeh, the Advisor to the Minister and the President of ICT Park stated as the meeting continued.
"In my opinion as an expert in this field with 20 years of management experience in Iran, it is very important to pay attention to digital economy in both Iran and Mali. Digital economy is not limited to the Internet and its services. Currently, Iran has entered the fields of IT and IoT in smart farming along with other industrial sectors. For example, by investing in this field, Iran can increase the farmers' income up to 3 times. Similar to that, it can play a significant role in smart animal husbandry, smart mining and other fields of economy in Mali,” he said.
Dr. Sadigh Damghanizadeh gave some explanations about smart greenhouses: "Around the world, the minimum area allocated to an economic smart greenhouse is 3000 meters, while we, economically, developed a greenhouse with an area of 500 square meters. This technology helps the younger generation in our country to have a good income by setting up these small greenhouses. This is just one example of the application of IoT in existing industries. This advanced technology is also useful in animal husbandry, which is included in the future plans of our country," he added.
Iran’s advisor to the Minister of ICT further invited Mal’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy to visit Iran and become familiar with the capacities of ICT Park: "Currently, there has been a large investment in Iran for the development of the national information network. One of these investments includes setting up a science park to help the growth of relevant companies. Currently, ICT Park has branches in 3 major cities in Iran, and we can establish international branches considering the relevant legistlatoins. Moreover, private companies associated with ICT Park are ready to cooperate in various ICT projects and in different fields, including producing optical fiber, creating banking software, and setting up mobile phone operators in Mali," he stated.
The President of ICT Park also explained the nature of science and technology parks: "In simple terms, a science and technology park is a land of about 20 hectares where ICT industriesare are gathered and grow technologically following the intended programs of the park. Parks, usually, are subject to special taxations and customs regulations. Despite the fact that a park's infrastructure is provided by the government, it is possible that national and international companies act upon designing the buildings which are supposed to be located in the park," he said.
Iran’s Advisor to the Minister of ICT mentioned the meeting and agreements he had with Mali's Minister of Science: "Regarding our negotiations with Mali's Ministry of Science, we will establish an innovation center in one of Mali's universities. In this center, academic teams will be located who will employ research and development to produce different products and sell them in the market. In addition to that, while continuing its development, it can be upgraded into a science park with an area of about 20 to 40 hectares (including multiple large and small private companies)," he explained.
The President of ICT Park also considered the most important cooperation model to be creating joint companies with the goal of transferring technology to Mali and meeting this country's requirements: "In this cooperation model, Mali's private sector and Iran's private sector cooperate, and ICT Park's only role will be acting as a facilitator, providing the necessary training about the innovation center," he said.
As the meeting continued, Mr. Mamadou Harouna Touré, Mali's Minister of Communications, Digital Economy, and State Modernization, thanked Dr. Sadigh and welcomed his suggestions. He also mentioned the positive role of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Embassy in Mali in facilitating Mali and ICT Park's cooperation: "This meeting shows that our countries are seriously determined and interested in mutual cooperation," he noted.
He referred to the idea of creating a digital city in Mali: "In contrast to Mali's "digital city" is in its initial stages of activity, Iran's ICT Park has achieved remarkable results; hence, we need to use Iran's experiences. However, due to the technical complexities of the matter, we need more time to negotiate how to pursue this cooperation and to discuss the technical details of the cooperation. For example, regarding cyber security, Msl's data protection, production of technical equipment such as optical fiber, etc., we are in need of transferring Iran's experiences to our country," he added.
"The main idea is for Mali to be a center of technology because this country is located in the center of West Africa and is surrounded by 7 countries. The majority of Mali's population is young, but in the absence of proper education, they may be misguided. The purpose of creating a digital city is that younger people who have majored in different fields can work in association with technology, and the more we direct younger people to innovation fields, the better results we can achieve in, for instance, agriculture by relying on technology. We invite ICT Park to settle here and determine the market for its products not only in Mali but also in all the countries of the region," he continued.
As this meeting continued, there was a question and answer session between the officials of ICT Park and senior executives of Mali's Ministry of Communications, Digital Economy, and State Modernization, and various issues were discussed, such as the mental model of Mali's digital city, its position in the country's upstream documents and legislations, the processes and fields of financing, the possibility of providing loans in Mali's banks, the condition of Mli's infrastructure, the upcoming models, and the outlook for building Mali's digital city.
It is noteworthy that, in addition to the ICT Park’s delegation and the senior officials of Mali's Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr. Taleshi, the ambassador of Iran in Bamako, was present at this meeting.
It is worth mentioning that, earlier, the ICT Park’s delegation met with Mali's Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and visited the Kabala University Complex in Bamako.