As the TED Conference team departs for Tanzania and TEDGlobal 2007, the TED.com team is beginning the conversation online, with our latest theme: Africa: The Next Chapter. We start with an observation: That while we’re all familiar with Africa’s challenges — famine and disease, conflict and corruption — it’s less known that across the continent, change is afoot. A new generation of Africans — entrepreneurial, optimistic, inventive, undaunted — are shaping a very different future for the their homeland.
Ingenious solutions are being applied to tackle some of the toughest health and infrastructure problems. Businesses are being launched that can transform the lives of millions. New communication technologies allow ideas and information to spread, enabling markets — and governments — to be more efficient. The numbers suggest that real growth is on the way … A new Africa beckons.
Next week, we hold our first conference in Africa (also titled “Africa: The Next Chapter”) to learn all we can about the profound changes sweeping the continent. Thought leaders from across Africa will gather with counterparts from the west in hopes of building new and lasting collaborations. But the meeting in real time is only the beginning: It’s the conversations and connections that continue online which will have even deeper reverberations.
Though the talks from TEDGlobal won’t be online till midsummer, we’ve started the conversation off with several relevant talks from TEDs past, including Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the pioneering Nigerian Finance Minister, who captures the zeitgeist of the moment with a talk on rethinking the African economy. It dovetails nicely with Jacqueline Novogratz, who promotes a new approach to philanthropy, based on investment rather than traditional aid. Both those thoughts were echoed by Ashraf Ghani, former Finance Minister of Afghanistan, whose rousing talk on his country’s future resonates with this theme, despite geographical distance. And then there’s Bono, whose memorable 2005 TED Prize acceptance speech was the original inspiration for the conference (though many there may disagree with his approach).