In 2010 Computer Aid launched its first solar powered internet cafe called the ZubaBox. Zuba is the word for Sun in Nyanja - a language spoken in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Southern Zambia - the area where our first ZubaBox was deployed to harness power from the sun and provide internet connectivity for the community.
The ZubaBox has been designed to help rural communities access the IT and internet, which can have a huge impact on poverty reduction. For example, access to local weather forecasts allows farmers to adjust the planting and harvesting times of their crops, increasing agricultural productivity and food security. Additionally, learning IT skills at school means children will be able to gain better paid employment in the future.
Currently, many people in developing countries, particularly in rural areas, do not have access to electricity and the internet.
In 2008, the UN found that there were only 5.6 internet users in Zambia per 100 people, compared to nearly 80 internet users per 100 people in the UK. Furthermore, in more than half of Africa’s countries, annual internet access costs range from more than 500% of average annual income to just over 100% of annual income. In 2007, NEPAD stated that electricity access in the rural areas of many Sub-Saharan African countries can be as low as 1 % of the population, with an average of about 8 %
The ZubaBox aims to provide one way of overcoming these challenges by enabling access to both IT and the internet without the need for existing electricity and internet access.
Five ZubaBoxes are currently in use in Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Nigeria, and three have just arrived in Nigeria, Togo and Ghana. We hope to send many more!
ZubaBox in transit
ZubaBox is an internet connectivity solution that is mobile, solar-powered and easy to set up. It is designed to work anywhere in the world, requiring no wired internet or (mains) electricity supply.
It is perfect for locations lacking electricity or communication connections since the ZubaBox contains everything required to establish a community resource centre or an IT classroom.
For more information please click here to download our ZubaBox fact sheet.
Or click here to view a documentary made by BBC click of one of our ZubaBox's in Zambia
Click here to view some images of the ZubaBox on Flickr
ZubaBox being loaded at Computer Aid's North London workshop
The ZubaBox is made from a 20ft shipping container, normally used to transport refurbished computers. On arrival at their destination the container converts into a fully functional Internet cafe for 11 users at a time. The cafe requires little power due to the thin client network, which includes 11 flat screen monitors that run off a single Pentium PC.
The thin-client computer network is powered by solar panels on the roof of the container. Six solar panels are fitted on each roof - enough to provide 12 hours worth of electricity everyday. The panels will last up to 25 years. The containers can be placed and used anywhere on the planet, with no mains electricity or wired connectivity needed. To function they only require power from the sun and internet access is acquired through cellular data connection, wifi or VSAT.
Please contact Ludovic at Ludovic@computeraid.org or on 0208 3615540 for further information on making an application.
ZubaBox in location in Kenya
ZubaBox in Zambia