Thought leaders from around the world discuss technology and development in Africa


Thought leaders from around the world discuss technology and development in Africa

State House, Le Reduit, July 2016 – The Chief Economist of the World Bank Group, Professor Kaushik Basu, led an important discussion in Mauritius on “Technology and Development” as part of a series of lectures undertaken by the President of Mauritius, Dr. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim.

The 2016 Presidential Lecture Series, co-hosted by the President’s office and the African Media Initiative (AMI), brought together a diverse audience of thought leaders from around the world. Professor Basu focused his lecture on technology and development in an era of rapid globalization, drawing on the conclusions of the Bank’s World Development Report for 2016.

He recognized the fact that technological progress had changed the lives of billions even though billions were still to benefit fully from these technologies. He spoke of the unprecedented diffusion of digital technologies which were fundamentally changing the lives of the poor, pointing to economic efficiencies and benefits that accrued from the use of mobile money in Kenya and mobile phones by farmers in Niger.

The Chief Economist regretted the fact that incomplete understanding of the impact of technology on economic development had hindered the design of effective policies to help countries take full advantage of the technology.

Underscoring the importance of designing mechanisms to advance economic development, Professor Basu noted that while profound transformations are beneficial, rapid changes can also be quite disruptive, creating winners and loosers.

Welcoming Prof Busu and other guests from around the world, the Head of State who is, herself, one of the world’s eminent scientists, emphasized the importance of science education in Africa.

Attending the lecture were board members of the Planet Earth Institute, including its founding chairman, Dr. Alvaro Sobrinho, a prominent Angolan philanthropist and businessman, and British Lord Paul Boateng, who moderated the event.

The lecture also featured the announcement of the first 10 winners of the Ameenah Gurib-Fakim Awards for post-graduate studies in a range of scientific fields.

AMI’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Eric Chinje, spoke at the event, emphasizing the importance of media and communications, which he described as the missing link in Africa’s development efforts.

AMI is an umbrella organisation that brings media owners together and seeks to find solutions to perennial problems facing the industry such as the lack of financing and solid business models, as well as difficulties in accessing the advertising market or even just good Internet connectivity. The organisation also aims to spur better journalism through various training programmes, including in data, basic science, and development journalism.