Come Lague, 33
Many experts fear the Internet will exacerbate, rather than alleviate, the already ominous gap between rich and poor countries. One techno-Samaritan who is giving developing countries a chance to participate in the information revolution is Côme Laguë, co-founder and chief operating officer of Adesemi Communications. Laguë’s company has begun expanding telecom services in Tanzania and Ghana and is coordinating the launch of wireless telecommunications services in Sri Lanka, Zambia and the Ivory Coast.
To bring telecommunications to poor countries in Africa, Laguë often must integrate several generations of technology, work around gaps in infrastructure and reduce budgets. Take the Tanzania project, which operated in areas where as few as one in 2,000 people have a telephone. First, Laguë developed a system in which each subscriber has a pager and a voice- mail account--when they get a message, they go to a pay phone. Only problem? No pay phones. So Laguë put in a system of wireless pay phones. Now, even though there may be only one phone in a remote village, any villager has access to phone service. That kind of ingenuity on behalf of poor countries makes Côme Laguë a champion whose work deserves emulation.