Keep the Youth ICT Literate!

Published on 24th October 2006

As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest. Alleviating poverty is not an act of charity. It is an Act of duty - Nelson Mandela

While many people in the developed world enjoy easy access to information through the Internet, email and telephony, billions in the developing world do not. The digital divide is not a problem in itself, but rather a symptom of deeper, more important divide of, income, development and literacy. 

In 1973 the number of poor people living in Kenya was estimated at 3.7 million. This figure grew to 15 million in 2000. According to the Human Development Report 2005, Kenya is ranked 154 out of 177 on the Human Development Index down from 134 in 2002, indicating the standard of living among Kenyans has fallen drastically in the last 3 years. The grading order is based on life expectancy, literacy levels, manpower development and health distribution. 

Kenya is cited as  a country that is unlikely to reduce poverty levels by half by 2015 because of the huge gap between the rich and poor. Even if Kenya were to achieve a 1% per capita growth rate on current distribution patterns it would not halve poverty until 2030. The report also highlights that global policies and unjust trade rules are some of the major hindrances that continue to deny millions of people in the world’s poorest countries an escape route from poverty and perpetual inequalities.  

Fighting poverty is more than transferring money to the poor or direct job creation for the poor, but rather providing tools that will empower people to be more productive. One tool is facilitating more effective mobile telephony penetration at the grassroots, because this is the most sensible and powerful way of using technology to promote bottom up development while effectively responding to the digital divide.

Harnessing the full potential of ICTs will help fulfill the MDGs. There is great need to formulate improved models for overcoming impediments and mainstreaming ICTs4D. Most importantly however, we must connect the ordinary citizen to these solutions through the necessary info-resources, technology and organizational capacity locally, regionally and globally.

Accelerated  effort must be taken to better address the limited know how to access and utilize ICTs4D  by nurturing the inherent capacities of the real stakeholders-community members. The tremendous potential of young people should be freed so that they can contribute in meaningful, substantive and sustainable ways to effectively address the greatest challenges at the heart of our development agenda: poverty, conflict, HIV/AIDS,  democracy, good governance, harnessing the benefits of science, technology and ICT s, trade and  investment.

We are often the leading innovators in the use and spread of ICTs, trailblazing the ICT4D revolution. All young people are uniquely positioned to effect change in the exponential because of their energy, creativity, enthusiasm to remain pioneers in the ICT movement, and most importantly, their dedication to sustainable development in their local and global communities. As both business and social entrepreneurs young people are creatively using technology to address community needs and meet global challenges.

We should no longer be seen as a huge jobless liability, but as what we really are: assets, great leaders in the making!

Make Poverty History.

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