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Something to chew on: TED talks posted online

I’m very gratified by the response to my post last week about live conferenceblogging (or “conference liveblogging”, if you prefer), and to all the suggestions and ammendments to the tips I posted. But I got the sense from some comments that I make the process of blogging these conferences sound like less fun than it actually is.

The truth is, while it’s hard work to blog big conferences, they give me ideas to think about for the next several months to come. I’m wrestling with a constellation of ideas about infrastructure’s role in development and questions about whether African approaches to building infrastructure a piece at a time represent a new model for international development… a train of thought that never would have entered my brain but the convergence of a couple of talks at TED and a couple at the World Economic Forum.

The good folks at TED have begun posting video of the talks from the TED Global Conference in Arusha. The first set posted is an excellent introduction to the debates that took place in Arusha about the role of aid, government reform and entrepreneurship in transforming the continent. I recommend starting your exploration with Ghanaian economist George Ayittey, who condemns a generation of African leaders as “hippos” and talks of his hopes for “the cheetah generation”, whose independence and speed was exemplified by many of the conference speakers. Ayittey’s frame was adopted by many of the speakers and listeners at the conference, and his thinking about African development have had a profound influence on conference curator Emeka Okafor.

You might follow Ayittey with former Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who complicates any discussion of aid versus entrepreneurship with a profoundly moving story about caring for her sick sister, and the aid worker who saved her life. Or with Euvin Naidoo, who is profoundly optimistic about investment opportunities on the continent.

But I strongly recommend wrapping up an hour’s explorations with William Kamkwamba’s talk. William, you may remember, is a remarkable Malawian inventor, who built his first windmill at age 14, working from a diagram in a library book, and provided light to his family’s home. With the help of a number of TED attendees, he’s now attending school again and has started blogging.

There’s more to come – it was a four day conference, after all – but these videos should whet your appetite and, I hope, give you some new thoughts to chew on as well.

2 thoughts on “Something to chew on: TED talks posted online”

  1. Ethan,

    You and I attend and speak at many events, you obviously speak more than me because of your experience. TED Global was not your typical conference, because there were actually Africans speaking and telling countless stories about trials and tribulations. Seeing and listening to the videos, I’m going to acknowledge that we have started a Tipping Point of African renaissance. This renaissance is going to shape and guide a new wave of discussion about African development and entrepreneurship.

    Nubian Cheetah (Nii)

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