During her visit to Our Lady of Nazareth Primary School in Nairobi’s Mukuru kwa Njenga slum, Kroes met Grace Maingi, a pupil.
“Many people think that girls cannot do this work, but as a girl I know how to assemble and disassemble a computer,” said Grace.
Most of the children who attend the school come from families that are hard hit by the poverty that is prevalent around the slum. The school’s computer programme was boosted by a donation of computer hardware from a non-governmental organization based in Europe. “I can now speak to people in the USA because I know how to use Facebook and Google,” adds Grace.
Kroes itinerary also involved inaugurating the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Centre, a facility located in Nairobi and set up to recycle plastics, glass and metals from discarded computers.
“Recycling is a must,” says Kroes “It is the end of the circle so to say,” she added.
Tom Musili, Executive Director of Computers for Schools Kenya, the organization which runs the recycling facility explains how it works: “We are able to handle all the fractions of e-waste. Copper and aluminum are used locally.”
Safe disposal of e-waste is a concern in several African countries, many of which lack adequate disposal facilities
“We want to have a zero-dumping country,” adds Musili. The facility plans to offer incentives to facilitate the collection of computers thrown away in dumping sites around Kenya.
Kroes itinerary also visited a clinic in Nairobi’s Kibera slum. The clinic is run by the African Medical Research Foundation which has set up an e-learning initiative to train nurses. “Via the mobile telephone there is a unique opportunity to increase the number of well trained nurses from hundreds to thousands,” assures Kroes.
While addressing delegates at the Internet Governance Forum, Mrs. Kroes highlighted the impact of the internet around the world ‘It is not just a trillion-dollar marketplace. It is a forum where people connect, a platform for astounding innovation, and a powerful vehicle for human rights and fundamental freedoms.’ she said.
The involvement of governing authorities in regulating the internet has been an ongoing discussion in the technology sector
“If the Internet is to fulfil its glorious potential, public authorities must support and protect it, but not kill it,” says Kroes. “Regulation is only ever a last resort, and even then keyhole surgery rather than amputation. We must in particular recognize the global character of the Internet, and keep it from fragmenting,” she concluded.