This CNN Hero upcycles old computers to open new worlds for young Kenyans
Kenya needs new computers that are less labour intensive. That was the message that got David Njoroge to write an open source computer for kids that will change the world. It’s the kind of thing that makes his heart swell. He has designed a laptop that is so cheap that it can be handed over to the poorest of Kenyans after the Christmas holidays to be programmed.
Njoroge is a computer science and computer engineering student at KEMRI, Kenya’s National Institute of Medical Research. He was inspired by a trip to India with his father, who is an engineer. When they got to Goa, Njoroge had the idea of creating a cheap and beautiful laptop. But, he had to work out how the computer would be made. He discovered that many Kenyan schools were using used computers to help kids get through their school and that few schools owned good laptops. So David decided his laptop must be a gift for Kenyans and be made from repurposed computers. His idea was to recycle the old computers by making them into something they can now use.
So he started looking into the different computers and what they have in them. Using his background in computer engineering, he realized that the main problem was that they were all made of metal. The machines that were used to make them were no longer being made. That meant that he would have to spend a lot of money on buying a new computer. He went on to look into the computers’ inner workings to figure out how they worked and started building one. He wrote a program and programmed it to do all the hard work so that when he needed to get it into the hands of a school, he only had to type in the number of seats and the computer would figure out how much to produce and then tell him the cost. He started making one that was no bigger than a notebook and then, one that was too big. This year, he started making a mini one because the laptop was getting to be big and heavy.
While David is currently writing a new program that will save his laptop from being thrown out, he is working on the original computer. He says that this project is an inspiration to many of us, especially the young ones