See also: WorldSpace, Offline, Publishing, FlashDriveEditor
Noah Samara was born in 1956 in Ethiopia to a Sudanese father and
Ethiopian mother. His father was a teacher and diplomat. He was raised
in Ethiopia and then Tanzania. At the age of 17 he left to study in
America, and earned Doctor of Jurisprudence from Georgetown University
Law School. He started his career serving the satellite
telecommunications industry. He founded WorldSpace in 1990 at age 34.
WorldSpace's mission is to create information affluence through
satellite broadcast of high quality information to receivers in areas
that lack adequate radio reception. WorldSpace started broadcasting to
Africa in October 1999 and Asia in September 2000, and anticipates
service to Latin America and the Carribean. Radio appeals to people's
imaginations, goes deep into their minds. He also guided the creation
of XM Satellite Radio which serves the USA. He is married, has two
children, and is an avid reader of technical and classical literature.
See also: http://www.unesco.org/courier/1998_08/uk/connex/txt1.htm
We need to speak to the world of a common humanity above our
differences. We need to both speak with conviction, listen and feel
deeply, and fortify our words with action. The struggle between good
and evil is fought first in the minds of men and women. We seek for our
planet to be safe, just and harmonious for all of life.
The digital divide is not for lack of technology or investment, but for
lack of vision and will. We must work to save lives, for ignorance is
death. Look at the children not in school: 80 million in Africa, 20
million in Latin America, 55 million in Afghanistan, Pakistan,
Indonesia. Only two percent of Africa's school children go to college.
We are here to act on behalf of others, they want us to take our
responsibility to do so. We are using WorldSpace satellites and
receivers to broadcast the African Learning Channel, help train
teachers, offer certificate and degree courses, provide
telemedicine services to hospitals. In working together in ICT projects
for development, let us include broadcast services such as digital
radio, deploy digital radios along with computers and printers, and
promote the creation of local content. Our experience is that we should
think in terms our ultimate goal, make use now of all that is "good
enough", and never give up.
Africa is a continent calling for emergency service. WorldSpace was
inspired in 1990 by the need to broadcast information regarding the AIDS
crisis. WorldSpace receivers pick up audio programs, and if attached to
a personal computer, can receive gigabytes of information per day.
Africa needs information, and this also is in the United States'
political, commercial and defense interests.
In the developed world there is one radio station per 30 thousand
people, and in most of the developing world, one per every 2 million.
Manhattan has more phones than sub-Saharan Africa. With globalization,
no economy, no land, is an island. We affect each other, and so need
information to flow so that we are all healthy, productive, stable.
Africa supplies strategic minerals for high technology. Africa's human
potential is limited by it's lack of information. A single WorldSpace
receiver can touch the lives of 200 people every week, but let us say 50
people. At a school, it could serve students, then women's groups, then
elders and farmers. Imagine 5 million receivers reaching 250 million
people. One year after introduction in Africa, over 1 million people
are listening to broadcasts. Also needed are an inexpensive wireless
Internet system or telephone network.
Every child is a miracle, a statistical improbability. 125 million
children are not in school, with no opportunity to become Albert
Einstein. We must think of each not as a statistic, but as our own
children. The abject poor want information about how the world works.
Satellites cover wide regions, can broadcast information. What is the
obstacle: cost of infrastructure, cost of access, difficulty of use, or
lack of coverage? The cost of access. We designed a user-oriented
solution that consists of terminals that are affordable, rugged, easy to
operate, and offer access to the largest universe of users in a way that
meets real needs. We offer a wealth of information for both education
and enterntainment. We will cover 86% of the world's population. Each
system delivers 50 channels plus 512 kbps of multimedia per beam.
Terminals cost $50 - $200 and we expect the price to go down to that of
low-cost AM/FM receivers. We will generate income from global, regional
and national advertisers. Our receivers are individually addressable and
so we can offer paid content.
Direct broadcast from satellites to wind-up digital radios.
Advancing education, health care, agricultural productivity.
Recognized as one of the top fifty African-Americans in technology.
"Information should be relevant and timely"
Education is the key. It means providing relevant and timely
information. An information society is one that provides such access.
We need to communicate urgent, direct needs: 80 million African children
out of school. They need a quality, globally competitive education.
They need teachers who themselves meet high standards. Also, we need
continuing education for adults, and especially women. WorldSpace
receivers in the schools are helping provide education for the teachers,
for the students, and for the people: for health, agriculture,
Distance Education Innovation:
History of WorldSpace
The initial contracts to design the receivers were given to Hitachi,
JVC, Matsushita (Panasonic) and Sanyo. They were granted exclusive
rights for the first three years.
It has been reported that much of the financing for WorldSpace has come
from Saudi Arabia.
The original goal was to have Africans speaking to Africans. In the
initial rollout, most of the channels are from commercial broadcasters
outside of Africa. The initial audience is the well-to-do in Africa,
with an interest in entertainment. Such service helps fund WorldSpace,
meanwhile the price of receivers will drop. Other ways of using the
satellite are arising, such as for rebeaming information from a mobile
studio in Mali.
The satellites were built by French company Alcatel and launched by
They can turn a profit broadcasting when they can charge $50 per hour
Noah Samara: change occurs first in the minds of people I'm doing some research to learn more about Noah Samara and WorldSpace
before I send out my proposal. He's truly impressive, and represents
our values of "caring about thinking". I share his remarks, presumed
copyright. I want to work for people like this. And I would like us
all, too. So I invite us to help identify more such, and we might
collect "kind words" about them which we find, by which we might support
their work. Andrius Kulikauskas, http://www.ms.lt
Noah Samara's Remarks to The National Summit on Africa - February 17, 2000
Mr. President, Your Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and
gentlemen. I am honored to be here with you today as a sponsor of the
National Summit on Africa and I am proud to participate in its
I was born in Africa to a Sudanese Father and an Ethiopian Mother. I
came to America at the age of 17 determined to take back to Africa skill
sets that would contribute to its development. My world view has been
shaped by a memory that goes back 37 years, when I was six. My family
was then living in Addis Ababa when the leaders of the newly independent
African states came to plant the corner stone of the Organization of
African Unity and sign its charter.
This was a great day in Addis. I remember a palpable excitement that
crackled through the air as the entire town went out to meet the heads
of states. My father had hoisted me on his shoulder so I could see
important icons like Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Jomo
Kenyata, Julius Nyerere and Haile Selassie.
A rush of thanksgiving and anticipation was lifting the town towards a
certain knowledge that life in our country, our city, our household, was
going to be better because of that day. Hope was gloriously alive and it
pointed to a reality that would unleash the greening of the continent.
Thirty-seven years later, at the dawn of a new millennium, we face
* of the AIDS holocaust - long predicted, widely feared - now
unfolding with already 11 million victims in its wake; many of whom
could have been this century's Albert Einstein, Aime Ceasare, or W. E.
of a continent second in size, population, and natural riches yet
whose majority is extremely poor;
a land ravaged by conflicts with deep historical roots where 80
million boys and girls are out of school and less than 2% of school
children get to college.
And desperate as these statistics are, the future could look even worse
... UNLESS people like you and me do something about it.
The truth is that we actually have the power, the means and the
wherewithal to avert an otherwise certain catastrophe of cataclysmic
If we should succeed to avert this catastrophe and rekindle the hope I
tasted when I was six, it will only be because something happened first
in our minds and in the minds of all the men, women, and children of Africa.
True change does not begin with declarations, legislation and grand
action. These are its effects. Great change occurs somewhat quietly,
almost imperceptibly, but always first in the minds of people.
And not every great effect is born out of great force as many of you who
have seen a mustard seed and a mustard tree can confirm.
I contend that all the change that is needed and recommended by the five
thematic papers at this summit could occur if something as adamant, as
determined as a mustard seed was to take root in the minds of the people
in this room alone.
The great anthropologist Margaret Mead once said we should never doubt
what a small group of thoughtful committed people can do to change the
world. "Indeed," she wrote, "it is the only thing that ever has."
When commitment becomes adamant, it gives birth to an interesting form
of courage. Not the saber-rattling, danger-daring, adolescent type of
courage, but the courage of a mother that affirms her life and the lives
of her children in spite of all the threat that surrounds her. The
courage - - for example - - of an idea that says "give me liberty or
give me death."
The courage in recent memory of a TransAfrica whose relentless Free
South Africa Movement would force businesses, municipalities, states and
finally the U.S. to join the rest of humankind in pressuring South
Africa to abolish apartheid.
In other words, ladies and gentlemen, commitment that becomes adamant
gives birth to a courage that is neither an opinion, nor deterred by
one. It is simply a state of being which, for example, if the people in
this room were to embrace, could inevitably rekindle the veritable
greening of the African continent.
I say this to you fully cognizant of the magnitude of the problem, on
the one hand, and the power and resilience of imagination and spirit on
the other. I assure you, the human spirit can beat the problems Africa
When I was 17, I came to America in search of education, weeks before a
revolution in Ethiopia would kill many of my best friends; and easily
curable diseases would claim many others. Not too many days pass before
I whisper what is now a constant refrain in my life: But for the Grace
of God, there go I. For a decade and a half I studied in the greatest
Universities of America in search of what I thought would be an elusive
solution, a holy grail. But I was also convinced that the solution, if
any, would revolve around an organizing principle, a Rosetta Stone, a
key that would unlock imagination and spirit.
Then one day, about ten years ago, I found my Rosetta Stone. It came to
me while reading a Washington Post article about the harrowing deaths
that the AIDS virus was claiming in Africa due to the lack of
infrastructure available to alert people about the epidemic.
I was a communications attorney in the satellite industry, at the time.
I began to investigate the nature of broadcast and other media
facilities in Africa and quickly found that the state of the information
infrastructure in Africa was the best allegory for the state of the
Continent as a whole.
Information is the predicate to everything we know. It is ubiquitous. It
is behind our DNA, the chair we sit on, the building we are in. It is
behind the wealth of nations; it explains the poverty of nations.
Malaria will not kill me because I have a doctor who knows how to deal
with it but may kill you because you don't. What makes my doctor able is
not the individual, but the information inside that individual.
So I decided to quit my profession and embarked on what then seemed an
unattainable goal: to put up a satellite over Africa that would
cost-effectively deliver information to the entire Continent.
The vision, then as now, was to create information affluence by
broadcasting information and entertainment directly to personal
receivers from a satellite in geostationary orbit.
The endeavor was immense. My wife thought I was crazy. Almost everyone
else agreed. Only governments or businesses could possibly finance it.
Finding neither to help me, I decided to start a business, whose first
expression was on the back of a napkin. As our plans solidified, so did
our progress. To make a long story short, a small band of individuals
went on to:
* privately raise over one billion dollars in capital;
* convince 130 nations to allocate radio frequencies for this service;
get great companies to build and launch the satellites; and
* have the biggest names in the electronics industry make and
distribute our receivers.
We thus built a company, which invested over 300 million dollars in
Africa and launched the first satellite designed and built expressly to
serve the continent.
Last October, Africa became the first place on Earth to experience the
new medium of satellite direct audio and multimedia broadcasting to
hand-held receivers using a tiny dish less than 4 inches in diameter.
What does this system do?
Simple. It broadcasts music, information, education and entertainment to
every corner of Africa. Anyone with the receiver can get audio and
multimedia programs directly from the satellite, without the need of a
The receiver delivers audio programs directly to people. It can also
provide encyclopedic volumes of Internet-type text, images and video
streams daily to anyone, anywhere in Africa, with a computer to which
these receivers can be connected.
Why is this important?
The ability to deliver encyclopedic amounts of information on a daily
basis can have far reaching consequences for Africa. You can
* deliver school curricula, books, teachers' guides to a nation or
an entire continent;
* reach health professionals across linguistic and geographic
barriers on best practices, continuously;
* reach women with solutions on family planning, entrepreneurial
help people think creatively about the environment and its input
on the delicate balance of our planet;
* provide basic education to tens of millions of students, now out
of school and help them understand their culture, their rights, their
responsibilities as citizens;
encourage a culture of peace through stories, dialogue and music;
* electronically provide training to reintegrate the ex-military
personnel into national economies;
* offer psycho-social service programs to refugees and societies at
large affected by the ravages of war.
WorldSpace has created a foundation and dedicated substantial satellite
capacity to be used for the programs I just outlined. Imagine how much
human and physical potential we would unlock if civil societies and
governments alike would join hands with us to provide programs that take
into account the social, political and cultural aspirations of the
peoples of Africa?
Imagine if businesses, foundations, and donors could join hands with us
to distribute receivers and computers to the disadvantaged who can't
afford this equipment but cannot survive without the information they
Some volunteers in my organization told me that even if we put only one
receiver and computer per school or village, these units can touch the
lives of approximately 100-200 people per week. If we put a million such
receivers that would mean we could reach 100 to 200 million people per week.
Africa supplies most of the world's important minerals: Without African
mining it would be difficult to communicate because its palladium is
what is used in mobile phones and laptop computers; its chrome is what
gives brightness to stainless steel; its platinum cleans the noxious
fumes from cars and its titanium dioxide is what put whiteness in paint.
Imagine a White House without the whiteness in its paint.
Africa's potential is not limited to its natural resources, but can
extend into the fields of agriculture, industry, medicine and the arts!
Its potential is constrained by the inability of its peoples to access
the human and material resources.
And that ability of Africa's people to access the human and material
resources of the continent is a function of the amount of information
made available to them.
Therefore the urgent imperative of our time is to create an
information-affluent African society. To do this requires the unshakable
resolve of people like you and me to say we're going to change the state
of affairs in our world.
Rainer Maria Rilke described such people beautifully when he said:
Again and again in history some special people wake up
They have no ground in the crowd
They move to broader laws
They carry strange customs with them, demand room
For bold and audacious actions
The future speaks ruthlessly through them
They change the world!
I have no fear to stand alone in my conviction that Africa will overcome
its problems. And I know there is a group of us out there and in this
room that are rooted in the conviction that the shortest road to our
goal is the creation of an information-affluent African society.
Together we will honor our ancestors by creating the greatest patrimony
for our progeny.
The question for us is not whether the inevitable will happen; but
whether our fingerprint will be among that small group of thoughtful,
committed people who actually changed the world.
- FlashDriveEditor = NoahSamara of WorldSpace satellite radio which needs content is a great independent thinker that we might seek to work for.