The biggest topic of TED was AID, and it's impact on development and corruption. Speaking with many none Africans or first time visitors, many asked, "so Africans don't want help or Aid". My reply was a little bias because I consider myself a Capitalist. My reply was, Africans want the ability to showcase their products or services on a world stage.
Throughout the conference I think many Africans came to the conclusion that we don't need AID or help, we need access to capital and markets, however one speaker who kind of closed out the conference was the Ex. Finance Minister of Nigeria and what she said left me thinking in a completely different way.
Here is a synopsis of what many speakers said:
Dr. George Ayittey
Africa needs young leaders whom he calls Africa's saviors or Cheetah's. Africa needs to go back to it's indigenous roots and rely on those institutions to fuel the growth for Africa. The Hippos or the Fufu leaders should be ashamed for squandering Africa's resources and should stop complaining about colonialism and it's after-effects. George is an old school intellectual who pulls no punches, he doesn't care what people think of him or whom he disregards.
Says aid makes African leaders complacent and dependent. This dependency makes Africa lazy and always reliant from the West. He asks why African governments haven't allowed entrepreneurs to market their services or products to international markets. Andrew is in favor of sustainable development for Africa.
Has the same sentiment when it comes to aid and dependence. Andrew and James are microcosms of each other with some subtle differences. James is an economist and deep thinker and Andrew an journalist that has been jailed in Ugunda for telling the truth. James however goes into more depth about the African mindset and impressions about it. At TED he says if you give someone aid, you create a mindset of dependence and this dependence will only teach begging. James also says if the West really wants to help us, they should open up their markets to our products and services.
Herman Chinery Hesse - Africa's Bill Gates
Herman is a dear friend of mine, anytime he opens his mouth people sit down and watch him in action. Herman is a story teller, his stories always have humor and that humor is what sets him apart from most. At TED, he told some short stories about misery and triumph of Softribe. One thing that he mentioned that I never heard anyone say before is that he expected ministers to take bribe if they were not getting paid adequately. His quote, "how can you expect a minister with a masters education, who sees all this money cross his desk, not line his pockets, it's inevitable! Herman from his experience says what Africa needs is empowerment from people in the "Bush", this empowerment should allow these people to grow, make, or ship their products to earn a good wage so they can buy his software services.
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Dr. Ngozi the first Finance and Foreign Minister of Nigeria spoke with such conviction at TED that the curators were afraid to stop her speech after it went over 18 minutes. I don't know if putting her last was done on purpose or because she was probably the most important speaker at TED.
Synopsis: Dr. Ngozi said Africa needs comprehensive development package. A hybrid package that includes investment, development and aid. She says Africans should be proud they get aid, AFRICA USED TO GIVE AID AND WASN'T COMPENSATED FOR IT! The aid she is talking about is slavery and natural resources used to grow and build Europe and America. Dr. Ngozi also says Ireland and Spain receive aid from the European Union so why shouldn't Africa receive aid. She also says, aid needs to be classified as SMART AID! Aid that has accountability and goes to grassroots organizations and public programs that are closely watched. Dr. Ngozi tells a story about when she was little she carried her little sister on her back to a clinic to be treated, she says without aid her sister would have died. This Sista is on point!
Remarkable speakers, remarkable talks, remarkable though-provoking discussions!