Juba — The Republic of South Sudan was this year honoured to host the TEDx conference, a program devoted to ideas worth spreading, involving local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience.
At a TEDx event, usually mainstreamed live to global audiences, TED talks; video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group, with the believe that ideas, knowledge and skills shared will positively impact on society.
While officially opening the event in Juba, South Sudan's information minister said the event, dubbed TEDxJuba, is both an encouragement and opportunity for the "dynamic" community in the new nation.
"The challenges currently facing South Sudan provide an opportunity for its citizens to utilize the enormous resources the country has been blessed with," said Barnaba Benjamin Marial, adding that time is up for the young people to transform South Sudan into a better country.
The event, which was hinged in the theme, "New Nation, New Ideas" was sponsored by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).
Yasmin Ali Haque, the representative of UNICEF South Sudan said TEDxJuba is about the spirit of ideas worth spreading and expressed optimism that ideas shared will positively contribute towards building the new nation by inspiring young people.
"Innovation is not about technology, but about social interaction with the various people in society," she said, adding that, "It is the creativity and innovation of the South Sudanese that will foster the soul of the new nation amidst the immense challenges it faces.
William Kolong Pioth, one of the speakers at TEDxJuba particularly appealed to the youth to play pivotal roles in building the new nation, saying the nation-building starts with individuals' self-sacrifice for society.
"We need to focus on giving back to the community through provision of basic social services and other necessities essential for their day to day needs, if we are to build a meaningful nation," said Pioth, also Director of Pan Aweil Development Agency in Northern Bahr el Ghazal state.
Meanwhile, Jok Madut Jok, the under-secretary ministry of culture, youth and sport said a clear distinction needs to me made between building a country and nation.
"Whereas building a country is about focusing the democratic principles involved, building a vibrant civil society and other institutions, nation building on the other hand concerns fulfilling people-driven priorities, such as health, education among others," said Jok.
He further noted that South Sudan, with its diverse cultures and nearly 70 ethnic groups, needs to focus on creating a sense of national unity among its citizens, through a unifying factor.
"Its high time the country's leadership focused on bringing all the various practices, cultural beliefs and different identities at the center stage for immediate redress," he emphasized.
Alek Wek, a renowned South Sudanese super model, strongly advocated for girl-child education promotion, describing it as the basic foundation for any building.
"Like they say, when you educate a woman, the entire nation is educated." said Wek, one of the speakers at the TEDxJuba event.
Other key speakers at the 13 July conference included, Joseph Abuk, Werille Benjamin Werille, Rachel Alek, Eunice Elisama and Jan Chipchase.
Started in California, US 25 years ago, TED has since grown to support those world-changing ideas with multiple initiatives. In the past, TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Al Gore, Sir Richard Branson, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, among others.