On the Friday before Christmas, the National Peace Corps Association held a press conference in Nairobi, Kenya to announce formally the winner of the Africa Rural Connect $20,000 Grand Prize. Present along with me were the Prize Winner himself, Jacky Foo, who flew there from Sweden, and Ernesto Gluecksmann, who has helped to build the Africa Rural Connect (ARC) website for NPCA. We invited press from all over the city and 25 of them attended to hear about the winner and ARC’s online community for African agricultural development.
Ernesto and I first spoke about the goals of the website, the technology behind it and how we spent the last 9 months building it and trying to reach out to as many relevant groups as possible to be involved. Then, Jacky spoke about his winning project idea. His project is located in Meru, a village only a 4-hour drive outside of Nairobi and some of the project leaders from the sisters of Nazareth were able to attend the conference. I was delighted to meet Jacky in person and hear about his experience on the ARC website, and also to meet the sisters who are helping to put his plan into action. Many of the reporters had questions about his idea and how it could be replicated in other villages.
Later that day, we had dinner with Crystal Kigoni, an American woman who works with Voices of Africa. Crystal’s mission is to put a solar-powered internet kiosk in every rural village in Kenya. For a setup cost of $4,000-$5,000, hundreds of people can have access to the internet, which would provide monumental communications and educational opportunities for them. We think that it would be a great way for people in rural areas to post their ideas on Africa Rural Connect, too.