This month, we look at two examples of how modestly-funded, locally sensitive projects can start to bridge the technology gap in East Africa.
How can we support technology in schools in developing countries, specifically in Africa? All too often the answer has been top-down, resource-intensive, and ultimately futile. An example is the One Laptop Per Child program which raised (and spent) an enormous amount of money, but is generally recognised to have failed. Another is Cisco Systems’ handsomely-funded project to ‘livestream to plasma screens in remote rural classrooms.’ It takes only a moment’s thought to understand why that one was not sustainable.
So this month, we look at the other end of the spectrum: two examples of modestly-funded, bottom-up projects. One is Clarity’s own initiative in Northern Ethiopia, in collaboration with Voluntary Service overseas; another is a tablet project set up by BRCK, one of Kenya’s first consumer electronics companies.
BRCK’s creator, Erik Hersman, is fond of saying that “If it works in Africa, it’ll work anywhere.” Neither of these two initiatives can be expected to provide a full solution, but they may, at least, be a step in the right direction.