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Young people in Kenya bridge digital knowledge gap

Young Kenyans in Mombasa now have the chance to become technology entrepreneurs. The Boost programme helps them clean and repair second-hand computers. That way, people can use them again. Kenyan hospitals, schools and government organisations are urgently in need of these devices. Boost saves these computers from ending up as waste in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Limited access to computers

Only 6 to 8% of people in Kenya have a computer in their home. This is due to:

  • the high costs;
  • few people know how to use and maintain a computer; and
  • the country’s infrastructure makes it difficult to distribute computers.

For the same reasons, many public institutes do not have enough computers, either.

The Boost programme wants to help bridge the digital gap. Those who take part in the programme clean and repair second-hand computers from Europe. They then sell the computers to Kenyan hospitals, schools and government organisations.

Saving computers from ending up as waste

The initiator, Mr Vanden Eynde, set up Close the Gap nearly 20 years ago. The social enterprise repairs used electronic devices from the Netherlands and Belgium. Close the Gap supplies these devices to businesses and governments in developing countries.

The SDG Partnership facility helped Close the Gap set up a partnership to increase its impact in Kenya. The result of the partnership is the Boost programme in Mombasa. It has 3 pillars:

  • Boost your technology: a factory where the computers from the Netherlands and Belgium are cleaned and repaired;
  • Boost your business: a testing ground for startups that develop digital and other solutions to societal problems; and
  • Boost your learning: a training and education centre for building knowledge and creating awareness.

Vanden Eynde states, “We pay extra attention to young women in the programme. They are the most vulnerable. For example, the partnership works with existing local initiatives that focus on women only.”

This SDG partnership has already created 30 local jobs, most of them for young people and women. By creating jobs and stimulating economic growth, the Boost programme contributes to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8.

Circular economy

Mr Vanden Eynde feels that the circular use of materials should also become standard in Kenya. The training and education centre is a first step in the right direction. Boost offers training courses on how to maintain, clean and repair computers. It also teaches Kenyans about the dangers of e-waste and how to get rid of of it safely.

Most of the computers the young Kenyans are repairing now are from the Netherlands. In the long term, Close the Gap wants to make sure that computers from Kenya are repaired and reused as well. To achieve this, the social enterprise will set up partnerships with local parties.

SDG Partnership facility

Boost is a partnership between Close the Gap Kenya, the National Industrial Training Authority (NITA, a Kenyan government organisation) and the Dutch partners MDF, Crosswise Works and GoodUp. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency supports Boost through the SDG Partnership facility.

The SDG Partnership facility (SDGP) helps to achieve the following sustainable development goals in developing countries:

  • SDG 2: ending hunger
  • SDG 8: decent jobs and economic growth
  • SDG 17: partnerships for the goals.

To reach these goals, it is necessary to work together. That is why SDGP works with public-private partnerships (PPPs) between government, businesses, NGOs and/or knowledge centres.