Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ory Okolloh earns my respect

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/video/2011/jun/22/google-africa-technology-video

I was impressed by the video above not because the ideas expressed therein are new but because they are audacious and not exactly what I would have expected from a Google executive.

The sentiment Okolloh expresses is as annoying as it is true. Whenever Africa comes up for discussion, there seems to the suspension of reason under the excuse that there is something fundamentally different about the people that makes it impossible to consider the fact that they desire the same progress, freedom, and respect that other peoples enjoy without bargain.

I have wondered why Bill Gates chose to do the charity work he is doing in many parts of Africa rather than help entrepreneurs start innovative companies like he did in the US. That would definitely do more good than anything the Gates Foundation can (attempt to) do to eradicate malaria.

It is not clear to me if the opinions expressed are Okolloh's own or they are shared by Google, but if they are that would be a refreshingly sharp departure from the abiding orthodoxy that Africa is a peculiarly wretched disaster that needs special remedies outside of common sense.

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