The Ndoto Project is committed to tackling three separate problems which simultaneously affect youths in Africa, and which they also can do something about.
We start with with Kenya, the country our first five students call home.
Kenya’s most pressing problems lie in old, outmoded ways of thinking which have failed the country in the past: tribalism, corruption, weak institutions and the people who run them, indifference.
Peace and prosperity are elusive not for want of resources, but the collective will to change things for the better. We believe that part of harnessing that willpower is investing in Kenyan youth, by aiming squarely at the need which stands between them and their potential to become educated and empowered changemakers.
Over 40% of Africa’s population is younger than 24. A total of 198 million Africans, 20% of the continent’s population, are between the ages of 15 and 24 – the largest percentage of young people anywhere in the world. Children under the age of 15 account for another 20%.
This demographic accounts for a powerful yet untapped force for change in Africa.
Patrick Awuah, the inspirational founder of Ashesi University in Ghana, astutely said once that every society must be highly intentional about how it trains its future leaders – “because they are the ones who will be running the world."
We believe that everywhere, including in Kenya, young people must possess the ability to innovate, to think creatively, see the “larger picture,” and tackle and solve problems which affect Africa and the rest of the human family.
The problem is known in ICT (information and communications technology) parlance as the “digital divide:” the gap which exists between people with access to digital and information technology, and those with limited or no access at all.
For years, Africa has lagged behind the rest of the world in its connectivity access to broadband internet, which accounts for much of the world’s ignorance about the problems affecting developing countries like Kenya. This is changing, however: the cell phone industry is rapidly expanding in Kenya, NGOs are working to “bring Africa online,” and technological savvy is on the rise among the young population.
We want to leverage this growing information wealth along with the energy and enterprising qualities of Kenyan youth to help close the digital divide the rest of the way. In the process we can enable their amazing stories to be told as well as help spotlight the issues which affect them, and which affect the society they live in and want to change.
Compared with their East Asian and European counterparts, the statistics for international exchange and summer work opportunities for east African students are dismal. Barriers exist in the form of visa restrictions, as well as inflated fee structures and the naturally high costs of international travel.
Ndoto would like to help turn this around by funding international exchange experiences as a vehicle for cultural education and internship opportunities, especially after the first undergraduate year. Such experiences, besides giving our students valuable knowledge, can provide them with further opportunities to raise support for their education.