Rwanda president at CES: 'Technology brings stability'
Technology brings jobs and financial stability, Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, told a session of this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Discussing emerging technology and its impact on his country and the African continent, President Kagame spoke of his desire for Rwanda to prosper through technology.
He was speaking on the inaugural CES Industry Insider program on Technology and Emerging Countries at the Consumer Electronics Show. The program also featured Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the One Laptop Per Child project (OLPC) and the MIT Media Lab.
In his opening keynote address for the program, Negroponte explained OLPC’s goal of eliminating poverty in third-world countries through education. He declared that, since most of the nearly two-billion children in developing countries are poorly educated, “We must restore, introduce and create the passion for learning in children.”
The discussion was moderated by Eric Nonacs, managing director for global affairs at Endeavour Financial Ltd.
Negroponte’s non-profit organisation has developed the XO laptop for use in third-world countries which typically have no electricity. The laptop operates on less than two watts of energy, and is powered by a hand-crank attached to the computer. WiMax and WiFi networks provide wireless Internet access to the XO laptops.
World Wide Worx has previously criticised the project for its lack of understanding of the limitations it continues to place on users in the developing world, and has warned that the XO is in danger of being regarded as a novelty gift for the haves, rather than a tool of productivity for the have-nots.
Following Negroponte’s speech, President Kagame, discussed emerging technology and its impact on his country and the African continent. The discussion was moderated by Eric Nonacs, managing director for global affairs at Endeavour Financial Ltd.
President Kagame spoke of his desire for Rwanda to prosper through technology. He noted that technology brings jobs and financial stability to his country, and that an open government-business relationship is necessary for economic growth.
Paul Jacobs, CEO of Qualcomm, next joined Nonacs on stage. Jacobs described his company’s Wireless Reach program, which allows governments to stay connected to their health care and education systems. Jacobs described how this program is trying to achieve sustainability through teacher training and community fundraising with help from NGOs and local governments.
After Jacobs’s discussion, he was joined on stage by President Kagame and Paul Meyer, co-founder, chairman and president of Voxiva for a panel discussion titled, “Technology’s Role in Long Term Development.”
The three leaders talked at length about existing vs. emerging technology. By leapfrogging older technologies, the panel agreed, developing countries learn from past mistakes made by larger countries, allowing for new technological infrastructure to be implemented correctly from the start.
The second session, “Technology in Practice,” featured product demonstrations from five companies focused on bringing greater access to education and information through technology. CEA economist, Shawn DuBravac, introduced the companies and their innovations, which included Manobi, a Senegal-based mobile data services operator, which demonstrated solutions aimed at improving market access and increasing revenue for African farmers with situation-specific content.
Also on hand were Freeplay Energy, a leader in developing the market for self-sufficient energy products, such as solar and human-powered technologies, and Meraki Networks, a company taking a new approach to wireless networking to bring access to local communities anywhere in the world. In addition, AMD and Marvel demonstrated the OLPC’s XO laptop.
The final session of the program, “Building a Better Tomorrow with Technology,” moderated by Paul Taylor, personal technology columnist, The Financial Times, brought together executives from AMD, Cisco, Intel and Microsoft to explore the companies’ numerous and varied initiatives in the developing world.
The panelists discussed the challenges and realities of making their technologies globally accessible to underserved individuals and communities. All agreed upon the importance of in-country training for technology users, sustainability strategies and long-term corporate and industry commitment for the success of development projects.