Why We Do This
Computers are at the center of all aspects of life in the 21st century. Having access to technology and developing the skills and knowledge to critically navigate the digital world are now essential to thrive in the modern world.
We are committed to digital literacy in Ghana because:
Africa is the future
In terms of population, Africa is currently the second largest continent and the fastest growing population in the world. It is imperative that access to digital technology and the skills to use it effectively are available throughout the continent to ensure that the next generation of Africans not only consume in the digital world, but produce and innovate.
Giving students equal opportunity
Access to technology and the ability to learn how to use it effectively should not depend on where you were born. Whether browsing the internet or developing complex computer code, students across the world from rural Ghana to New York state need to learn ICT skills from an early age to thrive in the 21st century.
Today’s students will build the solutions of tomorrow. By cultivating ICT talent in students from a young age, we empower individuals from all backgrounds to create a better future.
The Digital Divide is Unacceptable
In sub-Saharan Africa, less than 10% of households have a computer and 24% of people have access to the internet. This should be contrasted with the figures in the United States where 92% of households have a computer and 93% of people use the internet. This broad gap places African nations at a disadvantage on the international stage in an increasingly globalized world.
Kente Connect aims to improve digital literacy in rural Africa, thereby bringing technological justice to the fastest growing world population. We are a non-governmental and non-religious organization and welcome all who are stakeholders and share the values of our mission.
Technological Inequities: Digital access is essential to thriving in the modern economy, but people across the globe do not have equal access to computers or the internet. In sub-Saharan Africa, less than 10% of households have a computer, compared to 92% of households in the US. Similarly, less than 24% of people in sub-Saharan Africa use the internet while 93% of people in the US do. This unequal opportunity to learn “digital intuition” from an early age creates a systemic disadvantage for students in sub-Saharan Africa in the work and societal structures of the 21st century. Bridging this divide is essential to ensure that the future population of Africa can equitably participate in the globalized and digitally-connected world, not only as consumers but also as creators. It aims to further the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, specifically targeting
- #1 – Poverty Alleviation : End poverty in all its forms everywhere.
- #4 – Education : Provide quality education to children
- #8 – Jobs : Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth
- #9 – Innovation : Build resilient Infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation
- #10 – Reduced Inequality : Reduce inequality within and among countries.
An Organic Beginning: This mission has grown from the friendship of two science educators, Sam and Phillip, who met in 2018 and connected through their shared interests and love for teaching. With the support of others, Sam and Phillip carried out two programs (January 2019, August 2020) to acquire and send laptops to junior high schools in the Ashanti region of Ghana. These two programs were successful, providing computers and training to nearly 300 students. Sam and Phillip overcame many challenges along the way, and from these lessons they decided to establish a dedicated charitable organization to support a sustainable, long-term program — and Kente Connect was born. If you are curious about the full story, you can read all about our beginnings here.
Connecting Computers and Connecting People: The work we do embraces the “globally connected” world and is executed by sourcing used computers and peripheral devices to be refurbished, repurposed, and distributed to rural communities in Africa. This is done in a “community driven” way by soliciting direct donations from individuals and through partnerships with broader umbrella organizations (e.g. ComputerAid) to expand our reach to broader pools of donors while amplifying collective efforts through consolidation. As such, donations of hardware and financial support are critical to achieving our goals. Once the hardware has been installed in a community, intensive training is provided to a core group of educators in the community, typically teachers engaged with ICT education in the local school. In this respect, we also welcome support in the form of volunteering on site in Ghana to implement these educational programs. In addition to fostering increased ICT expertise in the community we are serving, these volunteers participate in a cultural exchange that creates connections between individuals who likely come from very different backgrounds. In this way, by providing computer hardware and “software” (i.e. knowledge) this program empowers communities with greater access to 21st century skills while connecting people through a shared appreciation for these skills and the possibilities that they provide for a richer life.
Solutions to Empower: This works aims to close the educational gap and empower local schools and the communities they serve by cultivating digital literacy. By providing both physical resources (e.g. computers and peripherals) as well as educational training for all levels of expertise, we approach our mission in a holisitic way. This begins to bridge the educational divide and enables local schools to leverage these new technological and intellectual resources.
A Focused and Sustainable Approach: The ultimate goal of having “one computer for every child in Africa” must be achieved by working in partnership with individual communities to develop Kente Connect in an organic and sustainable way. This began with the manner in which we were founded (consider reading our founding story) and has continued since. The needs of the community are identified by the community so that our efforts work for the community. This approach enables the members of our team to develop expertise in the non-profit ecosystem while establishing mechanisms to allow us to function as autonomously as possible while contributing to existing efforts as appropriate. As such, this work focuses on the community of Adanwomasi in the Ashanti region of Ghana expressly because of the established relationship with members of that community, namely Sir Philipp Bimpong and Eric Kwame Boakye, who can support the development of the organization’s efforts locally. Furthermore, Angela Tabiri and Sam Meehan have long established professional relationships with the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences in Accra, Ghana which can help facilitate broader local support from local leading academic institutions.
Partnership and Growth: Finally, we have established a partnership with Maxim Nyasa, a non-profit sharing our overarching goals. Since their founding in 2015 in Ghana, they have established multiple missions in neighboring African nations with support from sister organizations from the Netherlands and Belgium. They have provided us with guidance and support throughout our founding and with our focus being targeted in Ghana, our efforts serve to amplify this common African mission. In the future, we intend to expand our reach to more communities in Ghana by growing this partnership and establishing new ones, but for the time being we ascribe the philosophy of quality over quantity. This manifests by providing secure, accessible, and high quality technology coupled with training programs that reach both students and educators (i.e. a “teach the teachers” approach) to a single community. Therefore, while pursuing our mission of improving digital literacy, we will cultivate an institutional knowledge about how to best serve similar communities in the future. In other words, we believe in quality over quantity because in the long run “quality begets quantity”.
321 Homewilde Lane
P.O Box KJ 785
Kejetia – Kumasi, Ghana