Is Microsoft Winning In Kenya or Not?

Apparently Microsoft and Kenya are great friends. The other day, I stumbled upon a news article talking about a meeting between Microsoft’s Global President ( Mr. Jean-Philippe Courtois) and the president of Kenya (Uhuru Kenyatta). What were they talking about? Computers in grade schools (or as they normally call it – primary schools). Every computer needs software and this time, Microsoft appears to be looking at the big picture. Perhaps we can now ask ourselves this question: where is Google? Or maybe not!

microsoft kenya

You see, Microsoft offered to support the government in training  all primary school teachers to enable them to implement the program and that leaves us with a question: what’s in it for them? It might sound obvious but I don’t think people should assume this. Microsoft is most likely (this is what they do) to supply most if not all software the laptops will need. The software is not FREE! It is all about the money! Smart marketing!

The Kenyan president stated also that the government will use Kenya’s ICT industry to create some of the software to be used by the computers and that sounds very exciting really considering the job opportunities that will be created. But was the president of Kenya just saying that to avoid criticisms from Kenyans? You tell me.

I think letting in Microsoft was not an evil idea. Not at all. I, however, believe that the Kenyan government has put herself in a position where they will have to use Microsoft’s products for a long time – because there is no free lunch.

Is The Whole Thing A Good Idea or Not?

One thing I read a few days ago was that parents will be responsible for the costs of maintenance of the computers. Maybe you are asking; what is wrong with that? I think coming from a place where money is tight, it will be difficult for many. Some parents can’t even afford to buy their kids school uniforms. Giving first graders computers and then telling them they are on their own is crazy.

But should the program be stopped because of the fear of expensive repairs and maintenance? The answer is no although some parents thought so. I think the whole project should include the cost of maintaining the computers, at least. This is obviously because not all parents, especially in the rural areas can afford it.

Putting The Cart Before The Horse

In Kenya, some rural schools don’t even have electricity or solar panels. That is not all. Many of them don’t have cemented floors. I am starting to think these guys are putting the cart before the horse. Picture a first grader, a laptop and a dusty floor (classroom)…. It sure looks messy to me. So, build better schools first, then equip them with computers. That is my suggestion and opinion.

I will humbly stop my rant here. Oh and before I leave, I have a few words for the members of parliament in Kenya: Maybe before you do everything you can to increase your paychecks, try building good schools, hospitals and roads among other things. Don’t remain greedy (because  you already are). Reduce the unrelenting poverty. Remember that it is not about you, it is about the people.

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Written By Elisha Chirchir

Elisha Chirchir is a software developer. He is also the founder of Simple Developer and co-founder of Instinctive Software Solutions. On any given day, he works on both Android and Web Development. During his 'free time', he offers training to those interested in learning how to code in php, java, python, javaScript etc. You can easily find him on StackOverflow Android chatroom or on Twitter @Eenvincible

2 Comments on “Is Microsoft Winning In Kenya or Not?

  1. andrew Reply

    June 7, 2013 at 5:58

    Quote: ” I, however, believe that the Kenyan government has put herself in a position where they will have to use Microsoft’s products for a long time – because there is no free lunch.”

    Isn’t that true of any platform they choose to adopt, even so-called “free & open source”. Once you build any large construct, aren’t you stuck with it long term?

    • Elisha Chirchir Reply

      June 7, 2013 at 7:21

      The point I was trying to make however was that making schools get stuck with proprietary software might limit access to other choices.

      Thanks for the comment and I understand what you mean.

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