The much-anticipated World Congress of Information Technologies kicked off in Armenia on Sunday evening with a concert celebration in Republic Square, featuring the first-ever artificial intelligence concert. The official program for WCIT began on Monday morning at the Karen Demirchyan Sports Complex in Yerevan.
The conference, which will conclude on Wednesday, is the signature event of the World Information Technology & Services Alliance and has brought together more than 2,500 participants from 70 countries.
This year, the WCIT’s theme is “The Power of Decentralization: Promise and Peril” and will explore how information and communications technology is transforming our lives for better and for worse, and its impact on profits and prosperity, safety and security, democracy and humanity.
The Congress will feature keynote presentations and panel sessions that bring together several speakers, among them Kim Kadashian-West, Alexis Ohanian, GIPHY founder Alex Chung, VaynerMedia president Gary Vaynerchuk, renowned musician Serj Tankian, Acer founder Stan Shih, famous CNN journalist Richard Quest and many others.
Sunday night’s concert at Republic Square was led by the WCIT Orchestra, composed of 100 musicians from 15 countries who were performing together for the first time on stage in real time and featured Grammy Award-winning DJ Armin Van Buuren.
The conference kicked off on Monday with welcoming remarks by Alexandr Yesayan, President of the Union of Advanced Technology Enterprises and chairman of the WCIT 2019 organizing committee.
“This was a big dream to bring this conference to Armenia and specially Karen Vardanyan, CEO of UATE, has this dream for more than ten years,” he said adding that “Armenia is now uniquely positioned today to become the center for this next three days as well as to become the center in the region as IT is developing in our country.”
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who delivered introductory remarks at the event, said, “we believe we can make Armenia a paradise for talented people”
“The IT sector in our country has grown about five times in the last seven years. A steady 20% to 25% growth is recorded every year,” the PM noted.
Also speaking at the first day of the conference was Richard Clarke, National Security Expert and author, Chairman of the Middle East, Global Change, countries like Armenia can become economic powerhouses.
“Countries like Armenia, countries that train people in how to code, can become economic power houses, by tying into the knowledge economy,” he noted warning that if we do not create international norms, then the IT we are creating will become “a weapon against us”.
It is proven that those countries, such as Armenia, that make a decision to commit to ICT development benefit greatly, said the Yvonne Chiu chair of the World Information Technology and Services Alliance, who added that Armenia is deservedly considered the “Silicon Valley of the former Soviet Union.”
On the margins of the WCIT conference, the opening ceremony of DigiTec Expo 2019, the largest and most anticipated event in the IT field, took place at Mergelyan Institute’s Yerevan Expo Center on Sunday.
The Executive Director of the Union of Advanced Technology Enterprises (UATE) Karen Vardanyan and the Co-Founder and General Director of Ucom, the Platinum Sponsor of the event, Hayk Yesayan, state officials, representatives of local and international organizations, diplomats and other guests were also present at the opening ceremony of DigiTec.
On the sidelines of the annual regional exhibition of IT technologies DigiTec, Armenia and India signed an agreement on franchising of engineering ArMath laboratories.
Also, a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between Armenia and Ethiopia which provides for the opening of over 50 engineering laboratories for schoolchildren according to the model operating in Armenia.
According to Vardanyan, the ministers who have arrived in Armenia to participate in the WCIT forum are interested in cooperation with the Armenian side.