Haiti's prime minister tours Silicon Valley

Nov 20, 2013 by Martha Mendoza
Laurent Lamothe, Haitian Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, arrives at Buckingham Palace in London in this July 27, 2012 file photo. Lamothe plans to spend Wednesday Nov. 20, 2013 on a whirlwind tour through Silicon Valley's most elite tech campuses, hoping to convince some of the world's wealthiest and most successful corporate executives to share support and innovation with the poorest country in the Americas. (AP Photo/CARL COURT, File)

From Google to Facebook to Apple, Haiti's Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe plans to spend Wednesday on a whirlwind tour through Silicon Valley's most elite tech campuses, hoping to convince some of the world's wealthiest and most successful corporate executives to share support and innovation with the poorest country in the Americas.

Lamothe joins a growing stream of politicians, celebrities and CEOS taking these popular roadshows where they do a little business, a little schmoozing and quite a bit of questioning about how innovation happens in this booming tech region.

If there were an opposite of the affluent Silicon Valley, where entire municipalities have free Wi-Fi, it could be impoverished Haiti, where fewer than 1 percent of Haitians are regularly online.

But there are Internet cafes throughout the capital Port au Prince, and cellphone use is leapfrogging landlines. Some of the millions of dollars of earthquake relief and recovery aid has been spent on trying to get the long impoverished country wired, including a $3.9 million program launched this fall to deploy 65 miles (105 kilometers) of optical fiber in the country's southern region.

Before heading out to the tech titans, Lamothe spoke to engineers, developers and marketing experts at a tech conference Tuesday in San Francisco.

During the meeting, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff asked Lamothe, who was joined by actor Sean Penn who is active in Haiti's recovery, how the thousands of companies represented there could help.

"All of them want to support you and help in your leadership and the redevelopment of Haiti," Benioff said.

"The Haitian government, we're trying our best to fight against extreme poverty, lift people out of poverty," Lamothe said. "The best way to do it is through technology."

For example, Lamothe said, storing government data in digital clouds would prevent it from being lost in natural disasters. He said the country is trying to build an information and communication system, an online architecture that could involve business and government.

Lamothe was slated Wednesday to meet with tech executives, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's . A spokesman said Lamothe also hoped to speak with Apple officials about new, educational initiatives.

While this is Lamothe's first visit to the tech titans, the Prince of Asturias made the rounds just last week and South Korea's ambassador to the United States, Ahn Ho-young, swung through in August. The campuses are varied and impressive, with unusual features from Google's bowling alley to a small Wizard of Oz mock-up of Dorothy's house at Facebook, complete with smashed witch legs.

Explore further: NSA spying could prove costly to Internet businesses, experts say

5 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

UN in Haiti sees jump in cholera cases

Apr 03, 2012

(AP) -- Haiti is seeing a jump in the number of cholera cases as the Caribbean nation heads into the annual rainy season, a United Nations humanitarian agency said Tuesday.

UN launches major cholera appeal for Haiti

Dec 12, 2012

The United Nations on Tuesday launched a $2.2 billion appeal for a campaign to halt a cholera epidemic in Haiti, widely blamed on UN peacekeepers, which has killed more than 7,750 people.

Silicon Valley patent office shelved

Sep 01, 2013

Silicon Valley's high tech firms are fighting what they consider a deeply personal federal cut this summer that shelves a planned patent office in this innovation-fueled region.

Canada trying to lure Silicon Valley tech workers

May 17, 2013

(AP)—The Canadian government is trying to lure Silicon Valley tech workers who are frustrated by U.S. visa policies, just as Congress wrestles with a long-sought overhaul of America's immigration system.

Recommended for you

Alibaba IPO to boost employee fortunes to $8 bn

1 hour ago

Employees of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba will see their fortunes swell to nearly $8 billion as the company prepares a massive US stock offering that could be valued at $25 billion.

Alibaba mega IPO caps founder Jack Ma success tale

4 hours ago

When Jack Ma founded Alibaba 15 years ago he insisted the e-commerce venture should see itself as competing against Silicon Valley, not other Chinese companies. That bold ambition from a time when China was ...

Alibaba poised to surge on the NYSE

13 hours ago

Chinese e-commerce powerhouse Alibaba will say "open sesame" to the New York Stock Exchange on Friday, as its shares begin trading in a highly anticipated debut that could raise up to $25 billion.

User comments : 0