A British charity designed a solar internet hub that helps bring digital literacy to rural areas of the developing world, even those lacking electricity.
The internet permeates our modern lives and it is easy to take it for granted. But access to a stable connection is still a privilege; according to a 2015 report by the ITU, only one third of the population in developing countries has access to an internet connection. This goes beyond having access to Facebook or Netflix; being online is also crucial to access up-to-date knowledge and professional opportunities, among several other things.
Computer Aid International has been using information and communication technology (ICT) as a development tool since 1998. They refurbish donated PCs and distribute them in southern and eastern Africa. The tech charity designed the ZubaBox to bring people in remote rural areas online. ‘Zuba’ means ‘Sun’ in Nyanja, and it refers to the solar panels on top of the container. The solar panels are essential, as a stable power supply is also often lacking in offline areas. Each container is equipped with a refurbished PC, visualisation cards, monitors, keyboards, mice, an internet connection, mobile chargers, a ventilation system and benches. The containers are insulated.
There are currently about ten ZubaBoxes in use. Some of them function as ‘IT classrooms’ for schools, while others serve as cyber cafes in villages. The Boxes are located in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Nigeria.
Computer Aid International is planning to install a ZubaBox in Kakuma Refugee Camp (Kenya), where around 179,000 people found refuge from conflicts in neighbouring countries. For the refugees at Kakuma, a ZubaBox could be “a chance to reach out to the rest of the world, access online training and education courses and begin to rebuild their life and prospects of finding work once outside the camp.”
If you wish to support the next ZubaBox and other Computer Aid initiatives, click here to make a donation.