In what the World Bank refers to as a “connectivity gap,” Africa, especially its more rural regions, has yet to recognize the benefits that come with internet connectivity— such as the creation of jobs, economic growth via digital economies, increased access to basic services, as well as quality education and more. With only 22% of the African continent having reliable access to the internet, however, this might not come as much of a surprise. A non-profit known as TechLit Africa, however, plans to change this.

Teaching Technological Literacy

Also known simply as TechLit Africa, the non-profit is working to supply rural African schools with computer labs in order to teach kids the “technological literacy” and “self-efficacy” they have largely missed out on. Through computer classes, a digital curriculum and the learning of digital skills, TechLit Africa is striving to bring Africans into the digital world and out of poverty.

The Mission

Speaking to Software Engineering Daily in 2021, Nelly Cheboi, executive director and co-founder of TechLit Africa, gave a simple answer to the story behind the non-profit’s mission: “Starting TechLit Africa came from my own experience growing up in Kenya. I grew up in poverty and I’ve always been motivated to tackle poverty. I drew most of my experiences from watching my mom really struggle to put us through school… I saw education as the easiest way out of poverty.”

Thus, with this principle in mind, TechLit Africa grew and developed with the goal of teaching young Africans technology-based skills that have the potential to close the technological gap between themselves and the rest of the world.

Through the donation and refurbishment of old computers, TechLit Africa is partnering with schools and working to build computer labs within them. The non-profit then teaches various computer-based classes such as design, typing or coding (among other things) via a digital curriculum and the assistance of on-site TechLit educators.

In a recent interview with CNN, Cheboi gave a powerful vision for the non-profit’s goal. “My hope is that when the first TechLit kids graduate high school, they’re able to get a job online because they will know how to code, they will know how to do graphic design, they know how to do marketing… The world is your oyster when you are educated. By bringing the resources, by bringing these skills, we are opening up the world to them.”

TechLit Africa is currently running 10 computer labs in schools in rural Kenya, which is working to serve roughly 4,000 students. However, the organization does not plan to stop there by any means.

High Hopes for the Future

As TechLit Africa’s website spells out, the non-profit’s hopes for the future are ambitious and strongly emphasize rapid growth with even greater reach. As such, over the next several years it is their mission to begin putting down roots in even more schools.

“Last year, we partnered with 10 schools and taught over 4,000 kids. Our next milestone, 100 schools and 40,000 kids. We hope to hit by Q1 2023″

Simply put, for the future, the non-profit hopes to reach as many kids as possible; and in increasingly larger numbers; in order to equip them for the technological landscape of the future.

Indeed, teaching these skills and equipping young Africans for this future is incredibly important. As TechLit Africa’s website further highlights, Africans in rural communities simply lack many of the tools and skills necessary to take advantage of the digital economy like so much of the rest of the world has.

According to TechLit, many African talents don’t fit in the technological world, despite being well-educated. TechLit Africa “teaches digital skills using donated used computers that could end up in landfills… With these skills, [students] could be working remotely for tech companies all over the world straight from the village.”

By teaching these crucial technological skills, TechLit Africa is enabling young Africans to look forward to a brighter, self-sustainable and more secure future.

– Riley Wooldridge
Photo: Flickr