Recently I had the remarkable opportunity to meet President Kikwete of Tanzania and hear his vision for the future of his country. I was struck by how passionate he was about technology being the key for his developing country to leap-frog into the 21st century. He spoke with excitement of the promise that the subsea fibre-optic cable SEACOM (now live!) will bring by connecting the people of Tanzania to the rest of the world; and how broadband will help his country overcome an acute shortage of teachers and doctors.It’s pretty amazing when you think about how far we’ve come in a mere 150 years. During the industrial revolution, railroads and steam engines connected farmers and merchants with distant markets. Today, connecting the world involves broadband instead of boats, cable instead of coal, and spectrum instead of steam.jyrkaxue4bPresident Kikwete clearly understands the transformational power of connectivity. Connectivity is the enabler for the world to grow and help solve each other’s problems. Just like the railroad in the 1800s, the network has transformed how people connect. But it has gone even further by transforming how we communicate and collaborate; from both an innovation and sustainability perspective. A great sustainability example is our TelePresence technology that integrates advanced audio, ultra-high-definition video and interactive collaboration tools over the network to connect local and remote participants to the same virtual conference room. With over 500 TelePresence units globally at Cisco, they are the primary way we connect with each other. As a result, to date we have saved $244 million dollars in travel expenses and over 131 million metric tons of emissions. Economists have predicted that if U.S. companies were to substitute video conferencing for just 10% of business air travel, the U.S. could reduce carbon emissions by about 35 millions tons annually. When technology connects the human network, the way we work changes; but that’s not all. The ways we live and learn change as well. Connectivity enables NetHope to create WiFi hotspots in the middle of disaster zones to help victims receive aid and rebuild their lives. Connectivity teachers globally through the Teachers Without Borders program, to improve the quality of education in underserved communities in 119 countries. And connectivity has brought over two millions students in 160 countries of every race, gender, and economic background a core set of technical skills required for success and self reliance, via the Cisco Networking Academies.Whether it’s the railroad or the network, history has proven that connecting people with ideas and opportunities creates a powerful transformation of society. How will you use the power of connectivity?