UN-HABITAT and Computer Aid International Monday signed a landmark agreement to help avail ICT to the inhabitants of Kibera slums in Nairobi, Kenya, one of the world's poorest informal settlements.
The document was signed by UN-HABITAT Executive Director Anna Tibaijuka and Tony Roberts Computer Aid International Chief Executive on the sidelines of the ongoing Third Session of the World Urban Forum currently underway in Vancouver, Canada.
The Agreement of Cooperation spelt out how the two organisations will work together to apply ICTs to urban development projects beginning with a pilot in Kibera, Nairobi called the 'Computers for Communities' project. Kibera is Africa's largest urban slum and is home to about one million people. The Computers for Communities project is part of the UN-Habitat 'ICT for Development' programme.
Computer Aid International is the world's largest not-for-profit provider of computers to developing countries. Computer Aid has provided 70,000 PCs to educational institutions and not-for-profit organisations in 104 different countries. More than 6,000 of that total have been sent to Kenyan schools, universities and non-governmental organisations.
The project by Computer Aid and UN-HABITAT aims to bridge the digital divide that exist between the rich and the poor nations of the world. 'Computers for Communities' will provide computers to UN-Habitat own projects, education and training providers and community organisations in urban settlements.
The first computer laboratory created under the scheme will be at the 'One Stop Youth Shop' community resource centre in Kibera, Nairobi. This innovative and ground-breaking centre provides a rare meeting place for young people to come together to access information and resources critical
to enabling youth-led development programme and projects.
The 'One Stop Youth Centre' is one of the exciting projects highlighted during the Habitat Jam as an exemplar of best practice and of practical action proven to address the challenges of urban slums. The provision of ICTs to socially excluded groups provides the opportunity to amplify the voice of youth and enable their effective advocacy. At the One Stop Centre computers are a tool for sharing ideas, communicating issues and raising awareness. The project also provides and extensive programme of vocational training for local youth that is essential for entering the formal economy.
"The developed economies have enjoyed two decades of unbroken and unprecedented economic growth on the back of the ICT revolution. To be credible in 2006 any national programme to realise the MDGs and poverty reduction must include the application of ICTs across the economy. This reality was underlined at the recent World Summit on Information Society and Millennium Development Goal 8 itself explicitly refers to the need to apply ICTs to the task of poverty reduction", Mrs. Tibaijuka said.
Mr. Roberts announced that British Airways had agreed to fly the first computers from London to Nairobi free of charge the very next day. The computers will be sent first to Starehe Boys Centre where they will be re-tested and appropriate software loaded before deployment at the One Stop resource centre in Kibera.
Starehe is a model school that offers disadvantaged but bright boys the chance to continue with education. It is one of the top performers in the national examinations and every year, leads with the number of candidates joining the public universities.
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