I’m speaking at the Engineers Without Borders Conference in Milwaukee (March 27-28, 2009)

A few weeks ago I was contacted out of the blue by an old UW-Madison professor, James Delahanty. As the academic advisor to my group (and current groups) of Madison students studying in Senegal, he was our stateside pointman for those of us trying to navigate our experience abroad. (I also slept on the floor of his Dakar hotel room in January 2007.)

Jim recommended me to the UW-Madison chapter of Engineers Without Borders, who was looking for someone to come to the upcoming EWB International Conference in Milwaukee to speak about issues relating to technology transfer in Africa.

A few emails later, I’m proud to announce that I will be speaking Friday and Saturday, March 27-28 2009.

A continent, not a crisis” : How to leverage information technology in Africa effectively.
Cyrus Farivar, Technology Journalist

For decades, and arguably centuries, there has been a concerted effort by countries in the global North to assist countries in the global South, especially sub-Saharan Africa. In recent decades, this has meant computers, and more recently, the Internet. After all, if only more Africans had access to the Internet, then they could cheaply and easily gain the information that they require to better themselves and improve their own situations. But if the Web was invented two decades ago, why is only a tiny percentage of Africa online? What attempts have been engineered to fix this problem? Which have been most successful? To answer these questions, Cyrus Farivar will draw upon his years of experience as a technology reporter and time spent living in Senegal on a UW-Madison study abroad program (2002-2003) to discuss his theories.

I’ll be touching on many projects that I’ve been reporting on for the last few years, including the Digital Solidarity Fund, OLPC, Inveneo, Manobi, M-Pesa, and the upcoming Txteagle.

The title of my talk comes from a blog post by one of my favorite thinkers on all things African and technological, Ethan Zuckerman.

I will also be speaking on the UW-Madison campus on Thursday, March 26. Details TBA.

If any readers are going to be in attendance at the Madison talk or the Milwaukee conference, please let me know!

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