Solar Shipping Containers Help Bring Internet To Rural Africa

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A reliable electricity supply can be a rare thing in some parts of Africa and access to the Internet even more so. Shipping containers turned into Internet “cafes” and powered by solar panels are helping to change this.
  
ZubaBox, a creation of Computer Aid International, is a mobile solar powered internet connectivity solution that incorporates most of the equipment required to establish a community resource centre or an IT classroom. Zuba is the word for ‘Sun’ in the Nyanja language; spoken in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Southern Zambia
  
While we take the Internet  for granted in most parts of Australia, in Africa connectivity isn’t just limited by location or equipment, but cost. According to information on Computer Aid International’s web site, annual Internet access costs in some African countries range can be up to 500% of average annual income. The goal of the ZubaBox is to help overcome all these challenges.
 
The “plug and play” Zubabox is made in two sizes – one with three solar panels and another with 6. Deep cycle batteries store electricity for use during poor weather conditions. The more powerful model allows for up to 10 hours of consecutive usage each day by 11 concurrent users. 
 
Computer equipment includes a refurbished Pentium 4 PC, NComputing X550 desktop virtualisation cards, low-power monitors, keyboards & mice. In terms of connectivity, support for cellular USB, Wi-Fi or VSAT equipment is provided.
 
High-efficiency lighting, mobile phone chargers, ventilation systems, insulation and benches are also incorporated in the converted shipping containers.
  
A fully decked out ZubaBox costs around £22,000 (approximately $33,000); not including shipping. 
 
U.K – based Computer Aid International describes itself as being the world’s largest non-profit provider of affordable, refurbished PCs to schools, hospitals
and community organisations in the developing world and is inviting companies to sponsor a ZubaBox.