Israeli startup Keepod and LiveInSlums, an NGO, have united to launch an important project, Keepod Unite, that seeks to bring personal computers to the slums of Mathare in Nairobi, Kenya's capital. The team is currently seeking $38,000 on Indiegogo and will use the funds to distribute 1,500 Keepod devices, a secure operating system that runs from a USB drive, and a total of 50 recycled PCs in Mathare, as well as open community computer hubs.
About 500,000 Mathare inhabitants lack basic services such as drinkable water, plumbing, and waste disposal. Why is it important to get PCs to people who don't even have enough clean water? As Keepod Unite's campaign page points out, five billion people, or 70% of the world's population still do not have access to personal computing. This has created a digital divide, or an economic gap between people who have access to the Internet and those who don't.
Keepod Unite's PCs will fuel existing projects focused on education, HIV prevention, agriculture, and human rights in Mathare. Computers can also help lower the high rates of illiteracy, especially among women.
"Unless concerted efforts are taken to bridge the digital divide, many developing countries and communities will miss economic opportunities," the campaign page says. "Keepod envisions a world where all people can use personal computing according to their needs and visions."
Being able to keep their OS on a thumb drive means that users can turn any shared computer into their personal computer, taking all their software and data with they shut it down and leave.
The community hubs planned by Keepod Unite will be equipped with Keepod devices, public computers, and Internet access. Local staff will be hired to manage the hubs and support new projects. In addition to giving residents a place to use computers and learn about tech, the hubs will also be used as incubators for local startup initiatives, says Keepod Unite.
Keepod Unite's Indiegogo campaign launched yesterday and has until Feb. 14 to raise its $38,000 goal. Contributions start at $10, but for just seven dollars more, supporters get their own Keepod device (and of course, you can give more).