Plenary Lecture

Botswana Speaks! A Technological and Sociocultural Symbiosis Augmenting Political Discourse

Professor Vasilis Koulolias
Director of eGovlab
Department of Computer and Systems Sciences
Stockholm University

Abstract: In a continuous effort to enhance participation and direct communication between citizens and their elected Members of Parliament (MPs), the Botswana SpeaksParliamentary Initiative is an eDemocracy project that will enable citizens, traditional leaders and local kgotla assemblies in four constituencies of Botswana (Nata/Gweta, Boteti North, South East South and Maun West) to share their views and policy concerns with their elected representative. BotswanaSpeaks is an ICT-based Parliamentary Communication System (PCS) aligned to topical socio-cultural political traditions aiming to enable governments toimprove parliamentary efficiency, increase policy responsiveness and expandgood governance through the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). Moreover, it will enable the MPs to better fulfil their function as policy makers and representatives in the broader objective of achieving wider societal development goals.

Brief Biography of the Speaker: Vasilis is the Director and founder of eGovlab based in Sweden, at Stockholm University, Department of Computer Science. eGovlab is a unique laboratory focusing on eGovernment and citizen service delivery. It is based on a private public partnership. He has dedicated over two decades in bringing the benefits of ICT to popular democratic proceedings while bridging the gap between citizens and policy makers. Until recently, he was the Executive Director of Gov2u, which now serves as Chairman of the Board. Under his direction, Gov2U was placed by PoliticsOnline amongst the Top 10 most influential players in the field of Politics and the Internet. Gov2u is based in Brussels, Belgium and operates in Europe, Africa, North and South America advising and assisting to over 30 governments on how to modernize their policy development processes and enabling citizens to exercise their rights to democratic participation. Vasilis is a member of the International Council for Information Technology in Government Administration (ICA), a non-profit organisation comprised of National Government CIOs. Before founding Gov2U, Vasilis served as the Executive Director of access2democracy and has served in several Boards and Executive management teams in the IT Industry. In 1987 he established Pythia Corp developer of legislative information systems which he ran as Chairman and CEO until the company was sold in 1998. He was a finalist in the 1996 Entrepreneur of theYear Award, Indiana Growth 100, and received the Highest Impacting Partner Award from Microsoft. He has been featured in several books and publications including "Business@the Speed of Thought" by Bill Gates. Prior to establishing PYTHIA he was an Economic Advisor at the Indiana Legislature and Transportation Planner at the Indiana Transportation Planning Board. Vasilis is an Economist and Political Scientist (International Relations) from Indiana University.