New vision for computing in Africa: APC member Computer Aid featured in the BBC

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LONDON, UK, 23 September 2008 (Computer Aid)

APC member Computer Aid has recently caught the BBC’s attention with its adaptive technologies in Kenya. The BBC covered Computer Aid’s new focus on making computers and their programmes available everyone, including people have impaired vision. The articles states, “after shipping more than 120,000 refurbished PCs to the developing world, Computer Aid now wants its kit to be usable by all – so, working alongside local experts, it is testing out adaptive technologies.”

The access to several different types of software means that students and workers can now use virtually any computer, significantly increasing the likelihood of getting a job. The main challenge to accessibility however, remains affordability. The article explains “these technologies come at a high price. Computer Aid can refurbish a used PC for around $60 (£39) but the adaptive software can retail for 40 times that amount.” For this reason, Computer Aid is turning to open source software, which, according to Dapo Ladimeji, the founder of the Free Software and Open Source Foundation For Africa is unfortunately not yet a sustainable solution due to the lack of funding.

Safaricom, whose headquarters are in Nairobi, has started to employ visually impaired people as a result of training provided by Computer Aid. As the pressure to perform continually increases, the reliability of the software becomes an important issue; one that could easily be solved with open source solutions.

The article concludes that “as Kenya, like many other nations, moves into the knowledge economy their workforce will develop computer skills with the help of many charity programmes. What Computer Aid is now concerned about is that everyone can be given the chance to move with the times.”

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note: all the quotes were extracted from the BBC article New vision for computing in Africa

(FIN/2008)

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