Govt Turns to Multi-Billion US Firms to Preserve Kenya's Heritage

In a project that rolled out in June 2017, the National Museums of Kenya entered into an agreement with three multi-billion US companies to build a cloud-based digital archive, as reported by Daily Nation on January 8, 2019. 

The companies were Digital Divide Data (DDD), a nonprofit organisation that specialises in digitisation, data sciences, and social research services, Amazon Web Services (AWS), a subsidiary of Amazon that provides on-demand cloud computing services for individuals, organisations, and governments, and multinational technology corporation, Intel.

According to the publication, the first phase of the project involved the digitisation of 10,000 of the most valuable artefacts at the Nairobi National Museum, utilising the 3D scanning technology.

Oldowan stone tools dating as far back as 2.5 million years ago

On the company website, AWS indicated that the project would broaden access to the numerous priceless archaeological and paleontological collections that exist in one of the richest museums in the world in terms of cultural heritage.  

The digital archives database and the virtual museum will serve to educate younger generations about Kenya's rich history. 

On a global scale, the digital platform will purpose to educate tones of young and eager scholars and as a result, welcome more tourists and researchers to the museum.

AWS indicated that the NMK will benefit from the project in the sense that, the risk of losing valuable information and records of artefacts and specimens due to decay would be averted through digital preservation.

"Facilitating research on human evolution using the digital archive and database as a catalyst in training the next generation of researchers," AWS states on its website.

"With a central digital repository of collections, the museum will have the information available to curate and develop new exhibits," the website adds.

The project will also help NMK to engage digitally with other museums from around the world.

Skulls of the early man at the Nairobi National Museum.

According to Daily Nation, DDD President Sameer Raina noted that the artefacts will welcome huge interests, relating them to those from North America and Europe.

Stressing on education and learning, Raina noted that a ton of information and knowledge would be made available to members of the public just by the click of a button.

Since June 2017, the publication reported that over 20 NMK research assistants and 30 students in various colleges were trained by DDD on the use of technology.