Monday, May 8, 2006

Here?s a safe goal: saving the world.

Bridging the digital divide is the best solution for many problems plaguing the developing world – healthcare, education, debilitating poverty – according to a group of 2,000 business and world leaders who met in Austin last week. But the question of which ways best connect the world?s poor was vigorously debated at the World Congress on Information Technology, which meets every two years to discuss how technology can address needs.

Powerhouses Intel and AMD were at the center of the weeklong discussion. The heads of both companies used the conference to publicize projects to distribute cheap laptops to the developing world, but both were criticized for appearing to compete instead of working together.

?To the companies, it makes business sense,? said Ibrahim Kaliisa, a special adviser on information and communication technology to the Ugandan government. ?It?s not about moral obligation.?

He noted that in 1966, Uganda and South Korea were roughly equal economically. Now, companies are hoping to get a foothold in African countries like Uganda, in hopes they will someday have a market as interested in gadgets as South Korea.

?If 7.5 million children in primary school in Uganda … grow up seeing AMD, seeing Intel, that will be their market in five to 10 years to come,? Kaliisa said.

Indeed, many companies at the conference noted the potential profit to be had in the developing world, if the countries can prosper enough to afford new technologies.

?One of the things people forget living in the United States is 96 percent of the people we want to sell to don?t live in America,? Michael Dell, chief executive of Dell Inc., said during a speech.

Read the full story here.

Source: Star Telegram