Bill Gates candidly opens up on aid, technology in Africa


In the wide-ranging interview the billionaire philanthropist who co-founded the Gates Foundation with his wife Melinda, reveals how Africa – where their prime focus is on health and agriculture – constitutes “over half of what we do” in terms of delivery. But he is categorical on the need for aid accountability.
“I wish every election in Africa was about who can run the healthcare system best for everyone; who can run the agriculture systems best for everyone. Democracy, even in the West, is kind of unusual in terms of what priorities voters make choices on. But some governments really place expertise into healthcare and allocate an appropriate amount of finance to the health system,” Gates told New African when the magazine caught up with him during his recent visit to Tanzania.
On the growing debate on GMO seeds for agriculture, and whether his Foundation was a Trojan Horse for big multinationals, he says: “The debate in Africa now is really not about the private sector at all, it’s about publicly-funded seeds that happen to use GMO-type techniques to create disease resistance, to improve productivity and use less water.”
He adds with emphasis: “It is a bit strange for anybody to think we have ulterior motives in giving away tens of billions of dollars… if we are crazy, it must be for some other reason than pure greed.”
On the rising young population in need of jobs in markets that are certain to be overrun with robots and Artificial Intelligence he tells the magazine: “Way off in the future, the robotics will take things over. It does mean the nature of the job market will be shifting somewhat. But in Africa, the need for jobs, for teachers, for business experts, is going to way exceed supply over the next two generations, despite the best advances that AI can throw at us,” adding however that the days of manufacturing making up 30% of GDP are now over.

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