Fresh off his private tour of North Korea, Google chairman Eric Schmidt has spent the past week "in the cities of sub-Saharan Africa," as he put it on his Google Plus profile page on Tuesday. Among those locales that Schmidt toured was Lagos, Nigeria, where he met with Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola, as Ventures Africa reported.
Overall, Schmidt wrote that he came away from his tours of Africa with a sense of optimism in the continent's booming youth demographic and increased mobile phone adoption, though he noted that infrastructure issues are still keeping mobile phones from reaching even close to their potential in the region. Nonetheless, Schmidt said his visit made him optimistic that a more connected, Web-accessible sub-Saharan Africa could lead to greater economic development, more peace and political stability, and more social progress. As Schmidt wrote:
Connectivity is much more important for security than many analysts think. Societies who are not connected lack opposing viewpoints and are much more subject to easy radicalization. The virtue of having more connectivity is that people will have more choices, and more choices lead a better understanding of the value to go to school, the need to treat women equally, the choice to not demonize others, etc....
The demographic dividend in Africa of young people is their greatest hope, in my opinion. Today high rates of unemployment show an economy underperforming to its true potential. This new generation expects more, and will use mobile computing to get it. Optimism is appropriate for Africa, as the people we met will do much more with less than we can imagine, and the devices and systems built in the first world will be used in the most creative ways in the emerging new world of Africa.
Read Schmidt's full comments on his Google Plus post and check out another earlier post of a "Masai chief" using his feature phone on a 3G connection in the Rift valley.