How IT equipment donated by UK businesses is helping rural African communities develop economically
Macha Works is an African charity that aims to stem the gradual desertion of rural communities in Zambia by building the infrastructure they need to support economic growth.
Information, and the IT equipment required to deliver it, is a vital component of that infrastructure, says the charity’s chief executive, Fred Mweetwa. “Without information, we believe that it’s very difficult to develop rural areas,” he says. “People need information for agriculture, health, culture and heritage.”
Macha Works recently delivered that information to the community of Chikanta, with the help of UK charity Computer Aid International, by rolling out something called a ZubaBox.
A ZubaBox is a shipping container fitted with solar panels, monitors and a single server running multiple virtual desktops, using technology from a company called NComputing. Connecting to the Internet via a WiMax mobile broadband connection, the ZubaBox serves as an Internet cafeÌ for locations that others communications networks cannot reach.
Each ZubaBox costs £17,000 to make and another £5,000 to ship to Zambia, and is generally paid for by a corporate sponsor. To keep costs down, Computer Aid International builds the ZubaBoxes using IT equipment that has been donated by UK organisations.
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The Macha Works ZubaBox