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Ben White shows us the latest equipment for Africa Interactive mobile reporters. This is a portable solar charger, about the size of a 2nd generation iPod.

In a matter of weeks thousands of people from across the globe will descend on Istanbul, to attend the 5th World Water Forum. It’s the place to share experiences, learn and expand partner networks.

Akvo has been asked by Netherlands Water Partnership to assist in organising a 4-hour session called ‘thinking outside the water box’, that will take place on the morning of Friday 20th March. The water sector can be quite ‘inward’ looking, so the basic idea was to ‘open it up’ and fuel a creative atmosphere where new ideas, concepts and approaches that stimulate breakthroughs can be experienced. This animation will probably be used to kick it off.

I can now announce the key presenters and members of the panel – namely Alix Zwane from Google, Djeevan Schiferli from IBM, Thomas Bjelkeman Pettersson from Akvo and Joke Witteveen, who represents the computer gaming industry. Djeevan shared initial ideas about using footage from the animation movie, Madagascar, to back up his story, which sets the scene for what we have in mind.

So, why did these organisations step into the water sector? What is their vision for the future and their role in it? What are the possibilities that social networks and new IT and communication tools offer? How will business change in the years to come?

Additional input in the shape of short pitches will be prepared by Ben White representing Africa Interactive (a citizen network of local African reporters), Becky Straw from Charity Water (think Twestival and tweeting for water), and Gurdal Ertek, who will highlight open source software tools to save water in chemical industries. Representatives of the consortium Helixer talked about doing a sketch (lets wait and see) and the rap star BangBang has a video message to explain his initiative ‘fighting for water‘, where rappers and kick-boxers raise funds to provide water for poor people in Bangladesh. And yes, there is more to come.

During the session, participants will be able to send SMS messages to a big screen (if Rik Fleuren from Tenq manages to make it work on the ground in Istanbul), so the audience can directly with presenters as the session unfolds. Mark Charmer will package short interviews with participants at the forum, to be used as input for the discussion. He will also make sure the session gets broadcast and can be followed via twitter as it unfolds (I haven’t told him yet though).

All in all it will be quite a challenge for the moderator, no doubt.

Any additional creative input? Let us know, and we’ll do our best to accommodate it.

Peter van der Linde is the partner director of Akvo.