Erik Hersman nurtures the creativity springing from the African tech community, and helps spread its innovations throughout the world.

Why you should listen

Erik Hersman harnesses Africa’s boundless spirit of innovation by creating platforms to improve daily lives both inside and outside the continent. Hersman facilitates a host of web and mobile projects via organizations like iHub, a Nairobi community center built around the vision of an epicenter for Kenya’s booming tech industry. The mobile app Ushahidi, which he co-developed, allows users to share breaking news through text messaging, and continues to revolutionize and empower journalists, watchdog groups, and everyday people around the world.

Hersman, a TED Senior Fellow, grew up in Kenya and Sudan and is, as he puts it, "one of those guys who's much more 'at home' in Africa." He keeps two influential blogs: WhiteAfrican, where he writes about technology on the African continent, and AfriGadget, a group blog that celebrates African ingenuity.

As he says: "The constant bridging of worlds (African and American) started at such a young age that it has become embedded in my character. I find it easy to switch between cultures and enjoy friends and associates on either side of the ocean."

At TEDGlobal 2013 he guest-curated, together with Adrian Hong, the session “Forces of Change."

What others say

"I recently watched a TED.com talk about a new online tool called Ushahidi (Kenyan for "witness") and the great value of donating time and knowledge on a global scale. It further confirmed for me that there is a solution to the problems facing the less fortunate: Compassion is the answer." — Aloe Blacc

Erik Hersman’s TED talks

Erik Hersman on the TED Blog
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Ushahidi: Tapping the human resource

December 8, 2009

Ushahidi’s new video explains how it crowdsources crisis information via text messaging and the web so citizens can easily access the latest reports (represented visually on GoogleMaps) and swiftly respond to crisis developments. Initially a quick fix scraped together in two days to track violence following Kenya’s 2008 election, the open source platform has evolved […]

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Ushahidi wins $200K MacArthur grant

May 11, 2009

Ushahidi — a crisis-tracking tool with roots in TEDGlobal 2007 — has been awarded a $200,000 grant for development from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The Ushahidi mapping tool was developed by Erik Hersman, Ory Okolloh and Juliana Rotich, who’d met as TED Fellows at the 2007 TEDGlobal conference in Arusha, Tanzania, […]

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