Ambassador Opening Remarks
TEDx Tokoin Conference
ETI Conference Center
December 2, 2017 @ 1500
Monsieur the Minister
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a great pleasure for me to be with you to participate in the opening ceremony of this important conference.
If you have ever seen a “TED Talk,” you know that there are certain rules that the speakers usually adhere to: first, the introduction of the main idea, then a personal story to humanize the concept, and finally a rousing call to action on a global scale.
Luckily, I am only giving the opening remarks, so I can throw these rules out the window. The only rule I will follow is to be brief, so that the professionals can have more time to speak.
That being said, I would like to begin by congratulating the organizers for having turned the dream of a TED conference in Togo into a reality. This conference is a tremendous accomplishment that shows that Togo is perfectly capable of hosting world-class events that attract the most talented, innovative thinkers from around the world. So, let’s give a round of applause to the team that made it possible!
As the U.S. Ambassador to Togo, I feel especially proud that the TED phenomenon has now arrived in Togo, because the TED concept was born in the U.S. The first TED event was held in California in 1984. The organizers wanted to focus on the convergence among three fields: technology, entertainment and design. T.E.D. = TED.
The TED Conference became an annual event in Monterey, California. As the years passed, the roster of presenters broadened to include scientists, philosophers, musicians, business and religious leaders, philanthropists and many others. In the 2000s TED went global, with conferences around the world and an online platform that allowed people everywhere to view the talks through the internet. By 2009, the number of TED Talk views had grown to 100 million views.
How can we explain this incredible growth? In fact, it is simple. What powers the TED phenomenon in all its many platforms is the basic belief that ideas are powerful. According to Chris Anderson, the curator of TED talks, ideas are the most powerful force shaping human culture. Ideas, if communicated properly, are capable of changing forever how someone thinks about the world, and shaping their actions both now and well into the future.
Today at long last, we have a TED Talk in Togo. And I believe strongly that it is the right time for this. I have talked with so many young Togolese who are bursting with ideas and plans that will change the world, and it is high time we gave them an outlet to express themselves. That is why, I am proud to announce today, we are launching a monthly series of TED Talks for young Togolese at our American Corner on the campus of the University of Lome.
To conclude, in the spirit of the TED Talk “formula”, I will leave you with an idea worth sharing. The idea is this: The solution to every problem facing Togo can be found in the creativity and ingenuity of the Togolese people. I challenge all of you here today to nourish and encourage the spirit of creativity in the young generation, all the artists, entrepreneurs, scientists, and scholars who are working every day to create a better future for Togo , from Lome to Dapaong. Believe in them, believe in yourselves, and believe that a single idea can change the world.
Thank you very much.