NAIROBI, Kenya - June 20, 2007 - Residents of Africa's largest zone inhabited by very poor and socially disadvantaged families will have access to basic training in information technology and networking skills with the opening of a Cisco® Networking Academy® Program center in Kibera, outside Nairobi.
Kibera consists of 199 "villages" that surround the Kenyan capital. Just 5 kilometers outside Nairobi and home to more than 1 million people, even the most basic services, such as sanitation, are virtually unknown. Few children regularly go to school, pushing the rate of unemployment and poverty in Kibera above Kenya's average (40 percent unemployment and 50 percent in poverty). One in every three residents is HIV positive.
The new Academy will bring training opportunities to young people in the area and is designed to be self-supporting. It will offer the Cisco Networking Academy IT Essentials (ITE) course to 80 students in the first class. Within almost a week of starting their studies, students at the Kibera Academy, who may never previously have even seen a PC, will learn to build a computer, install an operating system, work with peripherals and connect a computer to a local area network and the Internet. AccessKenya, a leading local ISP, is providing wireless connectivity to the Academy and sponsoring internship for the graduates of the academy.
Cisco's senior vice president for corporate affairs, Tae Yoo, was present at the opening of the Academy, and said: "Access to technology and the Internet will help open doors to jobs and economic opportunity for the people of Kibera. The Cisco Networking Academy is helping to boost new skills required in the global economy as Internet technology is adopted. We hope that all of the Networking Academy sites that Cisco has established in Kenya with its partners will help speed up the current efforts being made to include ICT in the education curriculum nationwide."
The Networking Academy will also be a cyber café, acting as a focal point for the community and providing access to the Internet and other applications, as well as services like printing, typing and copying. Kibera residents will be able to learn and benefit from the Internet and use it to enhance their enterprises and economic activities. In the longer term, the center could support e-government applications, including voting during democratic elections.
"We've already seen success stories in our other Cisco Networking Academy sites in the region, but Kibera is a landmark Academy for us, due to its unique position in one of the poorest parts of the world," said Hital Muraj, area Academy manager for East Africa. "The Kibera Academy is about improving IT skills and boosting local people's prospects for the future and aimed at elevating their standard of living. Overcoming the technical and logistical obstacles involved in setting up a functioning IT lab in a place where basic electricity cannot be taken for granted, has been difficult but extraordinarily rewarding."
Cisco has 234 Cisco Networking Academy sites throughout Africa, which have had more than 100,000 students pass through their doors since the program's inception in 2001 through the LDC (Least Developed Countries) initiative, led by UNDP, USAID, ITU and Cisco. The program already has 20 established Academy sites in Kenya. The all-women Loreto College, Msongari, established in 2002 and one of the most successful African Networking Academy sites, represents the success the program is enjoying in the region. Girls from Loreto are regular visitors to Kibera in fact, and they have previously set up IT stands to share knowledge about computers and the Internet with local residents. Throughout East Africa Cisco is working with AFRALTI in Kenya and Dar-es-Salaam Institute of Technology in Tanzania for female scholarships and partnering with the Ethiopian government, private sector and nongovernmental organizations for the "100 Academies" skills training program. In Nigeria the Ministry of Education, the Education Trust Fund and Cisco are sponsoring 100 Academies, while the Rwandan Ministry of Education and Vision 2020 have partnered with Cisco to identify eight schools in Kigali, where the project will be rolled out initially.
About the Cisco Networking Academy Program
Launched in 1997, the Cisco Networking Academy Program is a partnership between Cisco, education, business, government and community organizations around the world, aimed at nurturing IT professionals. The program employs an e-learning model, using a combination of Web-based and instructor-led training along with a hands-on lab environment to teach students how to design, build and maintain computer networks. Worldwide, more than 2 million students have graduated from a total of approximately 10,000 Academy centers in more than 165 countries.
The Networking Academy program will celebrate its 10-year anniversary with a number of events and activities throughout the globe in 2007.