In Haiti, only about one percent of its population has Wi-Fi. The country is still recovering from a devastating earthquake that hit it in 2010 and its prime minister Laurent Lamothe was on a mission as he toured Silicon Valley on Wednesday. The head of state visited the campuses of top tech companies in the region, such as Google, Apple, and Facebook. He wanted to learn from these companies and also ask them to share technologies and innovation to help his country and other poor nations of the Americas.
World leaders, top executives, and celebrities flock to the affluent corner of California on a regular basis to see how technologies in Silicon Valley can help change and improve lives in different corners of the globe. Lamothe was no exception.
"Even if we do need water, we need the technology to know the areas where we have issues with water supply in order to create a better inventory. Technology can help us bridge the development barrier we have today," Lamothe said in an interview.
"The Haitian government, we're trying our best to fight against extreme poverty, lift people out of poverty. The best way to do it is through technology," the Haitian prime minister said.
Haiti has spent a good chunk of the aid it received from different sectors to improve its infrastructure and get more of its citizens connected to the Internet. While a program is in full swing to install 65 miles of fiber optics in the southern region of Haiti, there are still a lot of problems to address.
Lamothe shared that geolocation can help his country update its maps of health centers and improve its mailing system as they have no ZIP codes but instead use references points such as intersections or mango trees.
Google said it will update the satellite images of the country that was last uploaded when there were still tents after the 2010 earthquake. The search engine company also committed to send servers for ISPs in Haiti and donated online services packages for government employees. Of course, Lamothe did not leave Google's complex without trying on the Google Glass and the company's driverless car.
Lamothe tinkered with a mobile app specifically designed for political leaders who wants to engage with their constituents when he visited the Facebook headquarters. He hopes to be the first head of state to use the app when it is installed on Monday.
The Haitian prime minister also met with Apple executives to discuss possible educational initiatives.
Lamothe also attended a tech conference spearheaded by Salesforce.com and attended by top developers, makerting experts, and engineers on Tuesday where he received some assurance.
"All of them want to support you and help in your leadership and the redevelopment of Haiti," said Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff as he asked Lamothe how the technology industry can help Haiti.