Monday, October 23, 2017
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Private Companies Key to Driving Positive Change in Kenya

Samsung project in Kenya

As political uncertainty continues to hang like a cloud over Kenya, concerns about the impact on the economy are surfacing.

Indeed, the extended election period is slowing the growth of the country. And while the government has projected the economy would expand by 5.9 per cent this year, already first quarter growth was just 4.7 per cent.

This slow is said to be the impact of the extended election period, after  President Kenyatta’s re-election being nullified by the Supreme court on the first of September this year.

Hence amid these concerns, it  is more important than ever for the private sector to up its game in partnering with government to drive progress and strengthen confidence in the country.

From education to sustainability and employment, private companies are key to driving positive change in the country.

When we partner together significant strides can – and in fact already have – been made.

Using tech to transform education

The education space is a good example of an area in which the sub-Saharan region as a whole has made significant strides. According to Caerus Capital’s report, Business of education in Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa has the best record of improvement of any region since the Millennium Development Goals(MDGs) were established in 2000 by The United Nations.

A repurposed shipping container, which was turned into one of Samsung’s Solar Powered Internet Schools. (Samsung Electronics).

Though we are coming off of a low base, the statistics contained in the report are indeed promising.  For example in 2000, total enrollment of primary school-age children rose from 91 million to 158 million in 2014.

Similarly, in secondary education, the number of pupils enrolled jumped from 24 million in 2000 to 56 million in 2014.

On its side, Samsung has committed itself to forming part of this success by enhancing learning in schools through the use of technology.

To realize those ambitions, Samsung had to take into consideration some of the pressing challenges facing education in Kenya such as lack of electricity, learning materials and access to basic technology.

With this in mind, Samsung donated a Solar-Powered Internet School (SPIS) to Arap Moi Primary School in Kajiado County in 2014. The goal of the initiative was to strengthen the efforts of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in integrating ICT in primary schools and ultimately boosting education in remote rural areas.

As its name suggests, the primary advantage of the SPIS, is its ability to power technology in the classroom using energy generated by the sun. Equipped with laptops, a printer, electronic board, and most importantly, internet access, it is the powerhouse designed to create interactive learning experiences for both educators and learners.

Since its launch, the SPIS has benefited not only Arap Moi, but also nine other schools in the region, including the Kiserian Nakel, Naro Moru, Nkoroi, Ole Kasasi, Oloosurutia, Olteyian and Rongai Primary Schools.

Enhancing learning, improving performance

Fast forward a year and Samsung extended its involvement in the education space, partnering with Starehe Boy’s Centre to launch its innovative Smart School Solution in a more urban classroom environment. In essence, the solution consists of a management tool which delivers content to students and allows for the sharing of screens inside the classroom, while at the same time enabling teachers to track student progress and conduct group activities in real time. It also features a learning management system which provides access to e-books and learning apps.

About more than just exposure to technology, the Smart School plays a  role in increasing learner engagement, enhancing learning retention and encouraging a more stimulating academic environment. At the end of the day it helps learners to perform better both inside and outside of the classroom.

Combating global warming

Beyond education, Samsung has also set its sights on helping to reduce the harmful effects of global warming.

According to the Ministry Of Environment and Natural Resources, coverage in Kenya is currently sitting at 7 per cent. The goal, however, is for this to increase to at least 10 per cent by 2020.

To help work towards this goal, Samsung recently partnered with Friends of Karura Forest and Kenya Forest Service to help grow forest coverage in Karura Forest specifically, and Kenya in general.

As part of this commitment, 5 000 trees are being planted in the forest this year and 5 000 in 2018. 200 benches and picnic tables have also been donated towards the sustainability of the initiative.

Reducing unemployment

Perhaps, the most exciting is that the benefits of a project like Karura Forest will extend beyond the reduction of the effects of climate change. It also has a positive impact on the surrounding communities, in particular the Huruma and Deep Sea informal settlements that border the forest to the north and south, from which residents have been employed to plant the 10 000 trees donated by Samsung.

With all of the incredible progress that has been made, Kenya is poised to become a shining star on the African stage – but now more than ever private companies and government alike need to ensure we are partnering together to keep driving the country forward.

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