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ICT4D: Building technology literacy in East Africa

Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

ICT4D is a model created by Jonathan Mativo that brings technological education to rural communities in East Africa through village-level training camps and a two-month curriculum. Based on the idea that technology literacy is a critical skill for the future, Jonathan hopes to influence social change in underserved communities through the use of technology.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if every person in East Africa was technology-literate?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Rural communities in Kenya and greater East Africa often lack technology literacy and thus access to proper information, due to the fact that Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) training is often expensive, located in urban areas, and seen as inaccessible and difficult. Technological literacy is a critical skill in the modern economy, and the lack of basic and important skills thus plays a role in high rates of unemployment in rural areas.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

ICT4D brings affordable and accessible technology training to rural communities in Kenya through the use of mobile training camps, which spend two months in each village before moving on the next. The cost of the program are kept low at Kshs 1,500 ($18) per student and, as the training camp is located inside the village, students also do not face extra costs of transportation and accommodation. The organization aims to demystify technology through its curriculum and training model which is carefully designed to meet the needs of the rural population, cater to a wide range of ages (from as young as 13 to as old as 68), and further to incorporate critical aspects of mentorship and entrepreneurship training to enable learners to move beyond training into economic employment.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The ICT4D mobile training camp sets up inside the village, serving an average of 180 learners per location. The location of the class is provided by the community, usually a church or a school, which reduces the already-low cost of training and ensures that the equipment is kept safe. Training classes are structured into six, two-hour sessions between 8 am and 8 pm so as to allow learners to attend the training without compromising on other duties and obligations. At the end of two months, through a partnership with a private college in Nairobi, each learner is presented with a certificate at a "graduation" ceremony. The training camp then moves on to the next village, bringing at least two students on board which become trainers for the next village.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Since its inception three years ago, ICT4D has trained 16,327 people in the three counties of Makueni, Kilifi, and Machakos. Out of these, 287 have found jobs in the formal sector and a few of the young people have started ICT-related businesses in their communities. ICT4D's impact is also further seen in the empowerment of communities to solve their own problems. One example of this is a group of young people in Makueni County who learned about banana tissue culture from the web and have gone on to create a business developing the product for sale to farmers. Other organizations such as the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Owen Baya Foundation have also sponsored learners to take the ICT4D course. More recently, the County Governments of Makueni and Kilifi have adopted the ICT4D approach to roll out ICT capacity building in their respective counties.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Going forward, Jonathan hopes to gain additional support to put the necessary systems in place to continue scaling the ICT4D program as well as adding strategies for increased sustainability. Ultimately, he hopes to set up ICT4D centers in other countries across the region where he realizes the same problem of technology illiteracy exists. Jonathan's further vision is to have all students who have graduated from primary and high school levels obtain training in ICT skills within the first two months of leaving school. This would provide them with a strong base for their next phase in their schooling careers and ultimately prepare them for successful work life.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

The ICT4D is financially sustainable largely due to the number of measures taken to keep costs of the program low. For example, the training is set up within the village so students do not need to pay for accommodation and transport. Furthermore, students who have graduated from the program are brought to the next village to help with training. Local county governments have also pledged support for the program after seeing its positive results.

Founding Story

Jonathan was a below-average student in his early years before entering a local high school, where through hard work he set a record for the best performance in the history of the school and qualified for university,w here he studied computer science and Information Technology. After graduation, he got a job with the National Health Insurance Fund as its in-house IT administrator, and he would sometimes accompany field staff out to meet community members. It was there where he realized the problem of technological illiteracy among rural communities. He pitched the idea for ICT4D to his boss, but faced with a lukewarm reaction, he decided to set out and launch the problem on his own.