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Hello, this is Michelle. Everyone wants to ride the AI wave and, as the AI for Good summit showed last week, the possibilities seem endless.

But in a world where one-third of people don’t have access to the internet, the digital transformation is not the same for everyone. For cities in the global south, going digital is the first step they need to take before even thinking about the risks and opportunities that out-of-reach AI-powered tools could bring them. I spoke to a mayor from Mozambique leading the digital charge.

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Michelle Langrand


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Photo article

Street hawkers selling talk time for mobile phones in Quelimane, Mozambique. (Keystone/Image Broker/Ulrich Doering)

Rapid advancements in artificial intelligence excite the imagination of many, with promises of profound changes in society. But for cities in the global south, dreaming will have to wait as the journey of digital transformation is just beginning. That’s the mission that Manuel de Araujo is pursuing as mayor of Quelimane in Mozambique. He aspires to turn the coastal African city of 350,000 inhabitants into a digital hub connected with other cities from the developing world.

The lively, 53-year-old Mozambiquean is no stranger to Geneva. He lived in London for 10 years, studying human rights law and working for Amnesty International. His job monitoring rights abuses in the Portuguese and Spanish-speaking African countries often brought him to the international city to attend sessions of the now-defunct UN Human Rights Commission.

The human rights expert-turned-politician’s ambition wasn’t born out of thin air but more like strong winds. “We were hit on 12 March last year by cyclone Freddy. It completely paralysed infrastructure and the administration of my city for five full days,” he told an audience at an event by the Global Cities Hub at the AI for Good Summit in Geneva last week. “To make matters worse, because the winds were so powerful, the ceiling of my office and most of the municipality's office was ripped out, and all the paperwork got wet!” he said.

The unfortunate event pushed him to develop a digital strategy for the city he has been mayor of since 2011. “It was an issue of survival,” he said.

Read the full story on Geneva Solutions.

Solutions Lab

💡AN INCUBATOR FOR CYBER SECURITY. International Geneva has a new hub for digital trust and innovation. The structure, created by Trust Valley and the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, was unveiled this Tuesday at the Biotech Campus in Geneva, with 15 fledgling projects already under its roof.

What it’s all about. Trust Valley is a public-private partnership created in 2020 to promote cooperation in digital trust and cybersecurity. This latest venture, Trust Village Geneva, will support projects that developing solutions based on emerging technologies such as blockchain and AI in sectors likeagri-food and health.

A recipe for success? By nurturing principles such as digital trust right at the beginning of a start-up’s journey, Trust Valley’s director Lennig Pedron hopes the initiative will help bring resilient and useful technologies to the market. “We want to bring together international Geneva, the centre of digital governance, and the entrepreneurs who create solutions that guarantee trust and security in technology,” she said.

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