TED is headed to Africa next year. The elite ideas conference, behind the omnipresent TED Talk videos announced yesterday (Oct 3) plans to stage its TEDGlobal conference in Arusha, Tanzania next August. Like several international innovation conferences this year which have dedicated their programs to African ingenuity, TED’s gathering will spotlight the continent’s most consequential thinkers, tinkerers and “truth-tellers,” as the theme states.
“We intend for this to be a provocative event,” explains Emeka Okafor who is co-organizing the event. Okafor hasn’t revealed the names of speakers yet, but he says that some presentations will tackle the region’s under-scrutinized issues.”We feel it’s important for individuals [speakers] to outline where things are not working—constructively so.” he explains.
Okafor, who is designing the program with TED’s content director Kelly Stoetzel, intends to spotlight doers rather than just eloquent talkers. “If there’s any continent where we need a preponderance of people who get things done, I would argue that it’s Africa,” said Okafor who co-founded Maker Faire Africa.
This is Tanzania’s second time to host TED’s high-powered clan of techies, entrepreneurs and creatives. In 2007, TEDGlobal convened in Arusha and featured presentations from Nigerian economist, and later finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and then 14-year old Malawian inventor William Kamkwamba who learned how to make a electricity-generating windmill from a library book. Kamkwamba was among the group of 100 innovators from the continent who Okafor handpicked to attend the conference for free.
TEDGlobal’s standard $6,000 attendance fee is prohibitive for most, especially in the region where average annual salaries hovers around $900. But a few of Africa’s most talented and persevering artists, scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs can still participate in the week-long gathering at the Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge through TED’s fellowship program.
Aside from a ticket to the conference, the fellowship program offers a year of “transformational support”—professional coaching, mentoring, media and PR training, networking opportunities—for innovators to magnify and sharpen their ideas pitch. Kamkwamba, who was part of the fellowship’s inaugural class, has parlayed his TED experience to a best-selling book and a scholarship to Dartmouth University.
A previous version of this post named TED curator Chris Anderson as the co-designer of TEDGlobal’s program.