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Wednesday 27 August 2014

Bono: I'm a nerd out to end poverty

Martin Chilton

Published 27/02/2013 | 10:56

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Bono and his daughter Eve Hewson arrive at the 2013 Elton John AIDS Foundation Oscar Party in West Hollywood, California

LET’S hope that Bono is right and that extreme poverty will be a thing of the past by 2030.

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The 52-year-old lead singer of U2 told the TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference in Southern California that technology was one of the keys to eliminating poverty.

Bono put his trademark tinted glasses on upside down before telling the audience: "Forget the rock opera, forget the bombast. The only thing singing today is the facts. I have truly embraced my inner nerd. Exit the rock star. Enter the evidence-based activist. The factavist."

Bono was awarded the first TED Prize in 2005 and said he used the "wish" granted by the group of scientists, entrepreneurs, politicians and assorted celebrities to help fight extreme poverty.

AFP reported that Bono said more people with AIDS are getting life-saving drugs and that deaths from malaria have dropped. He also said that the child mortality rate has fallen, with 7,256 fewer children dying daily than a decade ago. And the percentage of people living in extreme poverty — as defined by those living on less than 82 pence a day — was 21 per cent as of 2010, slightly less than half of what it was in 1990.

"The rate is still too high, but it is mind-blowing, heart-stopping stuff," Bono said, claiming that if the trajectory continues the extreme poverty rate would hit zero by 2030. "We get to the Zero Zone, for number crunchers like us that is the erogenous zone. I am sexually aroused by the collating of data." He joked that 2030 was so close that it was "only three Rolling Stone farewell concerts away".

Bono warned that the momentum would be lost without pressure on politicians to continue supporting programs such as his ONE campaign. "We know that the biggest disease of all is not a disease, it is corruption," he said. "There is a cure for that, too, it's called transparency. Technology is really turbo-charging this; it is harder to hide when you are doing bad stuff."

He referred to the role mobile technology has played in the Arab Spring and in Uganda, where an SMS messaging network was used by people to expose corruption.

Asked what happened when extreme poverty was finally eliminated, Bono joked that it meant "you won't have to listen to an insufferable jumped-up Jesus like myself".

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