I have just returned to Nairobi from a behind-numbing eight hour trip from South-east Kenya – down near Mombassa.
Unfortunately, despite the teeth-jarring off-road driving that had to be endured thanks to some very serious road works being done to the main Nairobi to Mombassa highway – I can't actually reveal what I was doing down there yet – thanks to a pesky embargo that I have agreed with Computer Aid.
The organisation, which takes no longer cutting edge PCs from the UK and puts them to very good use in developing countries such as Kenya, is involved in some very worthy projects here. Unfortunately, as other publications are also interested in this story – and are donating some serious funding to Computer Aid, I have agreed to hold my story back until a mutually agreed time – probably a couple of weeks.
However, there are plenty of other interesting things to see here. Tomorrow morning, Wednesday, I am off to interview Microsoft's man in Nairobi to discuss some juicy subjects – such as what has happened to the promise of a $3 package of XP and Office apps aimed at students in the developing world. If it is happening, it will be interesting to find out what response Microsoft has to the accusation that far from altruism, this is just an attempt to influence the next generation of software purchasers in these growing countries.
I will also be discussing Digital Pipeline – an initiative backed by Microsoft albeit with charitable status – to get refurbished PCs to the developing world. Whether this is pure altruism or there are more market-orientated motivations behind it, I am not sure at this point – but it will be fun to do some digging.
I am also off to the headquarters of Computers for Schools Kenya – a great African success story of aid being taken on by a local NGO – a case of Africans helping Africans. The charity works with companies such as Computer Aid to get PCs from UK companies to Kenyan kids who need them. The organisation is based on a Canadian model, Computers for Schools Canada. Canada actually leads the world when it comes to re-using refurbished PCs – thanks to a government mandate that means all old PCs from government departments have to be passed down to schools and colleges. If only the UK government was so enlightened – it might go some way to reducing education costs.
On Thursday, I am off to meet representatives of the Linux community in Kenya including the brilliantly titles Linux Chicks – an organisation promoting development of open source skills across Africa.
Stay tuned for the results of these and other meetings.