Kenya Project

Laare Computer Center in rural Kenya:

laare_cc.jpg

Laare Community Technology Centre, Kenya

The Laare Community Technology Centre in Kenya was founded by Eric Mibuari '06, with the assistance of MIT's Public Service Center. The aim of this community centre is to increase general computer awareness and literacy in the Laare community by providing cheap, local and accessible training on the use of computers. This is in an area of the country where nearly no one owns a computer and very few people have ever seen one. At present the centre particularly targets the youth with high school education and seeks to equip them with basic computing skills that they can apply for personal use, in industry and in education. The centre was started in January 2005 and has so far offered various levels of training to three groups of more than seventy students. The centre takes particular note of the economic difficulties of the many people who would like to benefit from its training and facilities and purposely strives to charge the minimal feasible fees. More information about the project is available at http://web.mit.edu/mibuari/www/library.html

Short Term Needs

Internet. Since its inception there?s has been no internet connectivity at the centre. Being in a rural part of the country, 200 miles north of Nairobi, acquiring internet connection from the major Internet Service Providers, is expensive both at the installation stage and in paying monthly rates. A leased line installation might cost as much as $1000 and monthly payments would be around $300. The centre cannot afford this because it's currently not an income generating venture. Dial up connectivity would be very unreliable because of not only extremely slow speeds but a telephony infrastructure that breaks down regularly. The centre would benefit a great deal from internet connectivity because it would enable the students be exposed to internet technologies (email, etc). There'll be broader array of knowledge sources available to them this way. Internet connectivity will enable the instructors, management and students at the centre communicate more reliably with the outside world and this will enable them grow. It might also enable the centre generate some income by charging a fee to outsiders i.e. function as a "cyber cafe" during off hours. We are currently brainstorming on various options that might enable the centre acquire an internet connection and would welcome other ideas. We are looking at VSAT connectivity and the leased line option.

Sustainability

The long term future of the centre lies in its ability to offer good quality computer training to successive groups of members of the community at an affordable fee. This will not be possible if the centre continues to rely on outside help. There's a need for the centre to generate its own money so that it can pay the instructors, maintain the machines and simple infrastructure and conduct an effective way of recruiting students and delivering the skills they need. We are therefore, looking at possibilities such as providing the centre with a printer so they can do some commercial printing for members of the public. There are also plans to hold a management seminar for the oversight council over IAP of next year. This seminar will focus on areas of communication, collaboration with universities in Kenya and ways of increasing the outreach and capacity for the centre.

-- MarkPearrow - 17 Oct 2005
Topic revision: 29 Nov 2006, JasonDorfman
 

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