The Hewlett-Packard Company in Palo Alto, California, has launched its HP Digital Village program abroad, selecting two communities in Africa and one in France to receive HP products and services as part of an effort to help underserved areas use technology to address pressing social and economic needs.
Through the Digital Village program, HP works with a variety of local partners, including schools, universities, local government agencies, community service organizations, nonprofits, and small businesses, to implement and train local people in new technologies. The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology Digital Village project in Ghana, for example, will combine the efforts of the university and its partner, the University of Pennsylvania, with those of Ghana Telecom, local technology companies, and HP to build infrastructure and offer training programs that will enable four million residents of the Ashanti kingdom and Ghana's eastern regions to use the Internet to further educational, agricultural, and economic development in the region.
In Leondale, a community of 8,000 in Gauteng, South Africa, where 30 percent of the population is unemployed, HP will partner with ORT, a nonprofit vocational and technology training organization, to provide educational programs that help Leondale residents obtain jobs. And in France, the Villetaneuse University of Technology is leading the effort to build four youth-oriented technology centers in suburban communities north of Paris.
"One important goal that we had in launching the HP Digital Village program is to learn how we can better serve communities through collaborative efforts and a multidimensional approach," said Bess Stephens, global director of HP Philanthropy and Education. "We selected communities that would challenge us in very different ways so that HP and the Digital Villages might make a significant contribution to bridging the digital divide by sharing lessons and solutions."
The Digital Village program began last year in East Palo Alto, California, a low-income area in the heart of Silicon Valley, and was extended to East Baltimore and a community in Southern California earlier this year. The efforts are part of HP's e-Inclusion program, which aims to bridge the digital divide and bring technology to low-income areas that would not have access to that technology otherwise.