Google Conference Focuses on Africa's Tech Needs

Google is sponsoring a conference in Silicon Valley, dubbed BarCamp Africa, aimed at familiarizing participants with the continent's technological developments.

The Oct. 10 meeting follows an earlier panel organized at Stanford University that explored the benefits and challenges of accelerated development, foreign investment and "grassroots" changes catalyzed by new technologies, said Ellen Leanse, the event organizer.

BarCamp Africa is expected to open up a conversation on Africa and give people in the U.S. a way of gaining a greater understanding of the continent, Leanse said.

"We hope that two or three key real opportunities for creating change in some lasting, meaningful way will emerge from the day," she said. "Given the response we are getting from the Silicon community and the passions of the people who are coming, we are sure that something of value will gain traction at BarCamp Africa."

A debate, however, did arise on whether the event should be held in the U.S. or Africa and on whether African techies would be involved.

"I have talked to the organizing team to create some way for people from around the African continent to take part," said Erik Hersman, who was involved in June's BarCamp Nairobi. "It would require a certain amount of bandwidth, of course."

The event will be broadcast to those who cannot attend, making virtual participation easy, said Shara Karasic -- who is working with Jay Bhalla, CEO of SpeechNet -- to facilitate conversation between people from Silicon Valley and Africa.

There will be live tweeting, blogging, streaming, photos posted on Flickr, video and audio recording, as well as a conference wiki, Karasic explained. There will also be some form of a question-and-answer session between Silicon Valley and Africa participants.

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