News Column

Microsoft Trains 20 Technicians in Smartphone Repair

February 3, 2014

Lilian Mutegi

Microsoft, Computers For Schools Kenya and iFixit have today kicked off the training of 20 youth artisans in device repair. The 2 day event is taking place at the Pan African Christian University in Nairobi, and will give in depth, hands on training on the repair and assembly of devices.

The technicians will also get skills on how to run and maintain sustainable businesses. This training will be managed by Computer for Schools in Kenya who will develop partnerships in order to provide similar trainings to hundreds of young people across the country.

The training is expected to have a nationwide impact with 13 of the 20 artisans being drawn from outside Nairobi. The Repair Business Toolkit and Build Your Business Curriculum training that the technicians will receive will help them in building sustainable businesses and is also expected to lead to additional job opportunities in the counties.

The objective of the initiative is to extend the life of devices through management of e-waste and also provide income to young people as part of Microsoft Youth Spark programme, whose aim is to provide skills and opportunities for youth.

In addition to repairing devices, the technicians will also disassemble devices, exchange them with counter parts before reassembling them. At the end of the training, each of the technicians will get a certificate recognizing their skills.

iFixit will be bringing in their skills and expertise as an industry leader when it comes to repair and assembly of smart devices. The firm regularly disassembles devices to develop repair toolkits, providing information on the manufacturing cost of the device, and how repairable and environmentally friendly devices are.

"The initiative will also contribute in the reduction of electronic waste by ensuring that broken devices can now be repaired, rather than disposed of. Such devices usually contain heavy metals which are harmful to the environment, and make their way into our drinking water. In the United States, 70 percent of heavy metals in garbage dumps comes from discarded electronics, " says Mike Dyatt, support Technician IFIXIT. According to data from the United Nations Environment Programme, 17,350 tonnes of electronic waste are generated annually in Kenya, including 150 tonnes from mobile phones.

Smartphones, tablets and other touch screen computing devices have grown in popularity in Kenya, driving demand for affordable and professional technicians skilled in such high tech devices. As of September 2013, Kenya had 31 million active SIM cards and about 2 million smartphones. The number of such devices in addition to tablets is expected to explode in the next few years as more people start using data networks.

Speaking during the event, Djam Bakhshandegi, Corporate Social Investment Manager for Sub Sahara Africa said "We have seen lots of growth and demand of smart devices in Kenya including Windows Phone smartphones, which are doing well in Kenya under our4Afrika program. Microsoft has identified the need to support our customers by ensuring that there is enough technical expertise, from device manufacturers and vendors to technicians on the ground. For a while, Kenyans have struggled to find reliable and trustworthy technicians. This training will go a long way in ensuring Kenyans have more affordable and trustworthy points of repair for their devices."

Nicholus Nzou, Executive Director, Computers For School Kenya says, "Working with the community, we realized that they did not have the know-how to repair the devices, and so we approached Microsoft. We want them to have the expertise to repair the devices when they break down. Also, the coming in of government laptops will bring in a big challenge of repair. We are happy that the iFixit team is also providing repair tools which are also not available to the community. "

For more stories covering the world of technology, please see HispanicBusiness' Tech Channel

Source: AllAfrica

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