ACCRA, 28 August 2013: Bono, lead singer of U2 and co-founder of The ONE Campaign and (RED), met with Ghanaian entrepreneurs to hear how technology is transforming Ghana and discussed ways in which digital innovation can spur economic development and increase transparency in health, agriculture and government services.
Approximately 70 people joined the session at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), including internationally renowned Ghanaian business leaders and entrepreneurs such as Bright Simons of mPedigree, Edward Amartey-Tagoe of Nandimobile and Eyram Tawia of Leti Games. Bono was joined at the visit by a diverse delegation of leaders from the international policymaking, business and creative communities who are traveling with him in Ghana as part of a ONE/(RED) listening and learning trip to the region.
Technology can play a huge part in eradicating extreme poverty. As well as building thriving businesses, it can be used to battle corruption by helping citizens hold corporations and governments to account. Transparency is the best vaccine against corruption, and harnessing the talent of these tech-savvy innovators could dramatically change the game against those trying to game the system. – Bono
Bono and ONE have been working over the past few years with African partners on the fight for greater transparency and accountability in development, with a focus on increasing transparency in the extractives industry, and on how to increase international investment in Africa.
The group at MEST also discussed how technology can serve as a tool to ensure grassroots voices are heard as the future of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are discussed. The MDGs, created by former UN secretary general, Ghanaian Kofi Anan and adopted in 2000, are a set of globally-agreed development goals that aim to halve extreme poverty and hunger and massively reduce disease by 2015. As that deadline approaches, world leaders are debating what should follow. It is important that the voices of the citizens in developing nations are heard in this process. ONE’s ‘You Choose’ campaign used mobile technology to ask people in South Africa, Zambia and Malawi what their priorities are for the future.
Jorn Lyseggen, Founder and CEO of Meltwater and MEST, added that “MEST was started on the fundamental belief that technology entrepreneurship is one Africa’s most exciting untapped opportunities. We are proud that Bono and one.org chose MEST as the venue to discuss how tech can help address Africa’s challenges”. Earlier today, the group also visited the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital to see the difference being made by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. (RED), which partners with corporations to drive funding to the Global Fund to fight AIDS in Africa, has generated almost US $215 million for the Global Fund to date. Prior to arriving in Ghana yesterday, the group was in Liberia meeting with local leaders in government, business, healthcare and the energy sector. Bono and members of the ONE / (RED) team met President Sirleaf in Monrovia and President Mahama in Accra.
ONE is a grassroots advocacy and campaigning organization that fights extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa, by raising public awareness and pressuring political leaders to support effective policies and programs that are saving lives, helping to put kids in school and improving futures. Strictly nonpartisan, ONE works closely with African activists and policy makers and achieves change by building popular and political support for government funding of effective programs such as the Global Fund and PEPFAR. ONE is not a grant-making organization, and it does not solicit funding from the public. To learn more, go to ONE.org/Africa. About (RED): (RED) was created in 2006 to engage the corporate sector in the fight against AIDS in Africa by partnering with businesses who contribute up to 50% of their profits from (RED)-branded goods and services to fight AIDS through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. To date, (RED) has generated close to $215 million for the Global Fund, with 100% of the money going to work on the ground, impacting the lives of over 14 million people.
The Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) and the MEST Incubator program provide training, investment and mentoring for aspiring software entrepreneurs with the goal of creating globally successful companies that create wealth and jobs locally in Africa. MEST is based in Accra, Ghana and is fully funded and run by Meltwater Group through the non-profit organization, Meltwater Foundation. Since 2008 MEST has trained over 100 tech entrepreneurs and has invested over $1.5M in 13 tech start-ups in Ghana. MEST companies have raised external capital, competed in top technology events such as TechCrunch Disrupt, DEMO, and the Launch Festival, and have gained admittance to top accelerator programs such as HealthXL and 500 Startups.
Victoria Haynes, Director, Marketing and Communications
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