Iqbal Quadir, “Technology Empowers the Poorest”, Longnow Foundation, 2008/05/21

Quadir came from Bangladesh to study in the U.S., and then returned to his home country. He believes in entrepreneurism over government policies.

In Quadir’s view, it’s not that centralization per se creates poverty. Poverty is the natural beginning state of all societies, east or west. Rather, decentralization is the engine which removes poverty and brings wealth. To the degree that infrastructure, education, and trade can be decentralized, wealth will rise in proportion. To the degree that infrastructure, education and trade are centralized, poverty will remain.

[….] Aid, as we know it, kills development. This harm occurs because almost all previous aid has funneled through a central government or semi-governmental organizations and that official route tightens centrality. Even if the governments were saintly, and they are definitely not, the scale of money flowing through these centralizing nodes prohibits the distribution of resources, infrastructure, trade, and education. The more aid that arrives, the less development can actually happen.

Technology is the escape from this quandary. Quadir came to see that “technologies that connect” could liberate productivity. He matched his experience in Bangladesh as a 13-year-old boy having to walk 10 kilometers to get medicine, only to find out the medicine man he sought was not home, and then walking back empty handed, having wasted a day — all because there was no connection between his home and the pharmacist. Many years later in New York he wasted a day at work when there was no electricity to run phones or computers. Productivity required connectivity. If connectivity could be decentralized then it would lead to increased wealth.

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