Is the USB drive the answer to providing billions of people worldwide with computer access?

The USB drive is a device that is often taken for granted. Performing far more tasks than we could ever imagine at such a small size and cheap cost the USB drive has become a stable part of our digital world. Technology start-up Keepod led by Nissan Bahar and Franky Imbesi have developed the idea of using the USB drive as a solution to resolving the digital divide that exists in the world. For many of us living in the Western World digital access is something we are just used to and take for granted. However across the world many have never even used a computer due to its cost. Keepod think the USB drive could change this.


Using the fundraising site Indiegogo Keepod raised more than the $40,000 they were originally seeking. Over two thirds of the world do not have access to simple computing and Keepod have started by testing their project in Nairobi, Kenya. The average income in the city's main district Mathare is only £1.20 a day. Currently very few people in this area use computers at all so Keepod are seeing if the USB drive can change this.

A $7 USB drive

The main idea behind Keepod is that they have made a USB drive that can be sold at a cheap $7 and can allow everybody who owns one to use it to access a computer. Each USB drive will come with features that make for each users own "personal computer" experience when they insert it into a computer. Keepod is hoping that this USB drive will be able to work with very old PC's and mean that far more people in poorer countries can access a PC by just using a $7 USB drive. Their aim is to have 150,000 Kenyan people sign up to the project.


One of the main aspects of this project is to bring better education to countries that would be way behind anything we know in the West. USB drives can be loaded with software that can provide education many people in third world countries would never have access to without it. Kenyan schools are starting to embrace the Keepod project as a way of bringing new measures of education to Kenya. Many rich backers are starting to invest in the project and this is allowing more and more USB drives made by Keepod to be brought to Africa.

Malware risks

Part of the plan for Keepod is that local users will buy them and install more software on them for the end users to work with. A clever aspect of the project is that they have created the Keepod devices so if one users USB drive is infected then it will not spread to the computer it is used with. Something in development as part of the Keepod service is a Keepod back-up facility that allows users to store their files online so if they lost their device or it got corrupted they still can access their files.


Keepod has trained five people in Kenya to help lead the project. The scheme is all about allowing each user a unique computer experience. One fear is that in third world countries food is the biggest issue, not technology and the USB drives will be sold to provide some money. The long term benefits of computing in Africa could be major, but it will take Africans who struggle to eat at times to understand this for it to work. If the devices are not looked after they may be sold on or even stolen.

Is technology the answer?

Technology is fantastic and can make our lives easier, but doubts are being raised over whether technology is enough to solve issues such as bad education systems and business. Training on how to use these devices is needed before they can just be handed to Africans to use straight away. When the devices only cost $7 to begin with it is a common view that this project is very optimistic and might not be able to support itself.


Keepod is a very exciting project with a lot of potential. However there are many hurdles it will need to get over before it can become a success. This is another fantastic example of the power of USB drives and how they are helping change the world we live in for the better.

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