Hans Vestberg, president and CEO of Ericsson, and Dr. Hamadoun Touré, secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), discussed the future of broadband at the 2012 Social Good Summit on Saturday. The underlying sentiment? That high-speed internet has the potential to "transform" developing nations.
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In the panel, moderated by Mashable's editor-in-chief, Lance Ulanoff, Vestberg said that the pace of global technological change is getting faster.
"Today, [there are] 6.3 million mobile subscriptions in the world, 1 million broadband subscriptions in the world. That's just going to blow the next five years. [By] 2017? 5 billion mobile broadband subscriptions," he said.
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Vestberg explained that the next step is finding out how to harness that to transform healthcare, education, sustainability and other global issues.
But helping to develop nations through large-scale technological efforts isn't always charitable in the traditional sense of the word -- companies and organizations can often make sizable profits.
At a roundtable discussion after the panel, Touré addressed this issue.
"For 50 years of independence, in Africa, our development agenda was based on three words: health, assistance and charity. And it did not work. And if you try something for 50 years and it doesn't work, for God's sake, you try something else. I am saying, this is business ... There's nothing wrong with making profits," he said.
That is, as long as the money is reinvested in the cause to make more profits, which Touré said is "the rule of business."
He talked about ITU's Connect Africa summit, which he organized in 2007 with various heads of state to discuss a framework for improving Africa's telecommunications infrastructure over five years. They raised $55 billion in investment pledges.
"In the first two years, they invested $27 billion. And my assumption is that by the end of the five-year time period, they'll invest over $75 billion in the infrastructure in Africa. And this is the type of work -- the momentum that is doing work today, in this field. We analyze regional problems and help at the regional level -- focus on them and find some solution that we have in larger economics of scale," he said.
What are your thoughts about being profitable in the social good business? Do you agree with Touré? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
This story originally published on Mashable here.