In Uganda, approximately 70 % of young people living in the urban areas don’t have access to computers. Worst of the matter is that you may find 40% of them have also never seen or practically used a computer for once in a lifetime.
They are possibly like me at 14 years of age, I had never seen one though I heard about it, I used to think it referred to a walking robot, such as the one I watched in movies. However, that happened to me a decade and 2 years ago. Shocking isn’t it? I wouldn’t expect someone today to find it hard to access a computer or be able to use one!
However, similarly to other countries in Africa; the largest part of Uganda is a rural area. Rural areas are negatively affected by having poor education, poor health care, ignorance and many disadvantages you could imagine of including poverty.
Some of the biggest reasons why youths and adults don’t have access to computers is ignorance & poverty, in my own opinion.
Other factors could be lack of connectivity to national grid hindering the access to electricity which could be used to power the computer devices. And even if the connectivity was in existence in the rural and urban areas of Uganda, many families struggle to put food on the table, which means they couldn’t afford spending on computers.
In many countries children use computers to create things like robotics, play games, have fun with friends and this keeps them curious, creative and productive. It also helps them not to get involved in drug abuse, sex abuse and many other bad habits.
The same or better, is what I also want to happen in Uganda. At least by 2030, it should be very easy for someone to access and effectively use a computer. Employment opportunities among the youths to have improved due to skills acquired through using computers.
How is this possible.
We can start by building less power consumption, portable and affordable computers.
With only $100, it’s possible to build a portable DC powered computer for a youth. Two or more youths can even use one in intervals so that everyone gets to learn how to use a computer and leverage the opportunities that come with it.
Since Uganda’s population is largely young people, actually 78% all being below the age of 35 years; according to wikipedia and the Uganda’s recent census in 2015. This is not a one man’s task.
What shall we do together?
We shall build portable, DC powered functional computer kits, installed with open source software.
Though we shall be able to build sellable computer units, our major aim is to uplift rural communities for free. And we hope to approach impact & climate change funders, to invest the initial capital to support us to build the first 50 pilot units.
Our pilot phase, will involve introducing community labs comprising of 3 to 5 units per lab per community. This means, in a day of 8 hours, one lab will be able to give access to 24 up to 40 youths at a rate of 1 individual per computer per hour.
The computer kits!
Each computer set will be a composition of a Raspberry PI, Memory Card, LCD monitor, USB keyboard, USB mouse and other necessary cables. Each full unit could cost between $120 to $145. Approximately UGX 407,249/= to UGX 492,093/= according to Google currency converter as of today 09/Oct/2016.
In the first week, after setting up the lab, we shall conduct free workshops, to train youths and citizens of that particular community, on how to use these computers, troubleshoot them and in partnership with other social enterprises, we will educate them in personal development and leadership.
Our aim for these workshops, is to build/develop a self-sustaining project in which the citizens of the community have a bigger commitment and responsibility.