Remarks by Sean Callahan, USAID Cambodia Deputy Mission Director, at BarCamp Phnom Penh

Saturday, October 19, 2013
Remarks at BarCamp Phnom Penh
Sean Callahan of USAID Cambodia delivers opening remarks at BarCamp Phnom Penh on October 19, 2013
Sean Callahan, USAID Cambodia Deputy Mission Director, delivers opening remarks at BarCamp Phnom Penh on October 19, 2013.
Michael Gebremedhin

Your Excellency Dr. Oum Romony, Director of the Institute of Technology of Cambodia

Ladies and gentlemen

Good morning and welcome to the Phnom Penh BarCamp!  I am so heartened to see that you are willing to spend your weekend indoors learning from each other.  I think you’re here because, like us, you believe that what you will see and hear today and tomorrow will help improve the lives of you, your families, your friends and of all Cambodians.

I want to start by recognizing the organizers of this event.  They have worked voluntarily to make this BarCamp happen and I think they deserve our appreciation.  Thank you to Open Institute and the BarCamp Cambodia team for conducting so many of the preparations for this event.  I also want to thank the other sponsors of this event including Cellcard, Online, Nokia, Google, and the Institute of Technology of Cambodia.  It’s truly the work of a diverse coalition of great people and organizations – our thanks to all of you for your support.

Most importantly, though, I want to thank all of you who have come to participate including the Cambodian Youth Indigenous Association, Khmer Youth and Social Development, the Youth Council of Cambodia, and the Khmer Youth Association.  It is clear to me that innovation, technology, and creativity are abundant in Cambodia.  It is one of the many reasons that USAID is a very proud supporter of BarCamp events.  We firmly believe that the solutions to many of the developmental challenges we face in Cambodia today lie in new technologies.  I hope that your participation in the BarCamp will give you the freedom to think about how you can use the amazing power of technology to solve the problems faced by your community.  It can be as simple as teaching a neighbor how to find information on the internet.  It could be as complex as creating the next, great computer operating system.  Never has so much learning and information been as widely available as it is today.  We want to help you seize this opportunity. 

USAID provides funding for BarCamp through a program we call Structuring Partnerships for an Innovative Communications Environment - SPICE for short.  SPICE is managed by our partner, the Open Institute and together, we are working on some exciting new projects.  Promoting Khmer font for cell phones is one of those projects.  

We are also developing an Interactive Voice Response platform as a means for content providers to get their information to customers all over the country.  

But why do we support BarCamp and technology in general?  Because, as our Administrator often says:  “The only way we’ll bring a billion people out of poverty is by mobilizing the energy and ingenuity of a new generation of students, inventors, and entrepreneurs to deliver results on a greater scale than ever before.”  Technology is the platform for that energy and ingenuity.  It is the means by which – together – we will improve the lives of Cambodians.  Technology will help us deliver life saving information to pregnant mothers.  Technology will bring farmer and market together in ways that save costs and increase revenues.  Technology will help Cambodians be more informed about their surroundings, their society, their country, and their future.  

This is a good time for me to mention USAID’s new SILK project.  It will support an innovation lab which will be a space where technologists and the private sector will have the means to create products and services for Cambodia’s growing civil society.  We are very excited about this project and we are happy that we have a very experienced team to work with us on it.

The goal of USAID’s support to technology in Cambodia is to bring tangible benefits to citizens and effect positive change through improved communications and access to information.   I hope that as you participate in the BarCamp, you will consider how you can combine your skills, what you learn here, and emerging technologies to contribute to a brighter future for Cambodia.  This is a chance for Cambodia to become, in the words of USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, “a country that believes that dedication and innovation are the only things needed to bridge the gap between the inconceivable and the achievable.”

So, once again, I want to thank you for spending your weekend indoors here.  I’m sure you’ll agree that it will have been worth it.  More importantly I look forward to seeing the great things you will accomplish with what you’ve learned.

Thank you.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Issuing Country