Monday, October 25, 2010

Singularity University Alumnus Emem Andrew Dreams African Technology Revolution

*Emem Andrew at a NASA lab in California. She says that young Africans need to begin embracing technology in order to safe guard their future.

Emem Andrew stormed the TELL newsroom on a Friday afternoon recently armed with nothing but a laptop bag and a cheerful smile. The 37 year-old former engineer at Shell Oil had just returned from a wonderful Graduate Studies Programme at the world renowned Singularity University at the Silicon Valley, California, United States. At SU she was elected the class speaker on graduation day to give a vote of thanks on behalf of the 80 students who had been selected from all over the world to be part of the ground breaking programme that is meant to raise world leaders in the field of technology.

It was no mean feat for Andrew who was one of only six Africans that were selected to attend the school that was created by Google and NASA among many other high technology-based companies. Its motto essentially is to "assemble, educate and inspire a cadre of leaders who strive to understand and facilitate the development of exponentially advancing technologies and apply, focus and guide these tools to address humanity’s grand challenges." Futurists, in science speak.

“[SU] helped me to shape my purpose and frame it in a way that I can articulate how to achieve it. I knew all along that my purpose was to affect lives but I didn’t know how best to achieve it but at SU I was able to find my path” Andrew said. Realising that one should not be limited by their minds, circumstances of birth, gender or ethnicity, Andrew found a big secret that would change the way Africans and indeed the world will live in years to come.

“Technology is the future,” said Andrew who left her job at Shell in search of a greater purpose in life. “We are moving to a time when everything will be free. Technology is going to usher in a life of abundance and Africa should become partners in ushering in that life and not be a charity case.” She cited the fact that crude oil will lose its relevance in the scheme of things in the next 20 years, not because it will run out but because technology will overtake it. Instead, the role of oil in the scheme of things will be taken over by solar energy which is readily abundant in Africa. Hence, Africans need to start thinking of ways to develop their immense opportunity in solar power to sell to Europe.

Part of the aim of Singularity University is to affect positively the lives of one billion people through its fellows. Andrew already has plans to begin making technology more appealing to young people in the country as part of her life’s goal. “I want to make young people love technology just like they love rock stars” she said. “Let us create a technology revolution in our country so that our young people have somewhere, something to do with which they can change the world and impact people. It’s our environment that breeds what we are, technology is the future”.

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