Samsung Electronics Africa, on 19 June 2014, launched its Solar Powered Internet School (SPIS) in Senegal.
During the recent Dakar Financing Summit for Africa’s Infrastructure, high-level delegates, including Senegal President Macky Sall, Chairperson of the African Union Commission Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka, discussed how African infrastructure projects could be fast-tracked to provide rural areas with basic services such as education, healthcare, electricity and connectivity.
First launched in 2011, with installations in many countries throughout Africa, the Solar Powered Internet Schools are completely independent classrooms that aim to increase accessibility to education and connectivity in remote areas of Africa.
“Less than 25% of the continent’s rural areas have access to reliable electricity supplies, leaving many isolated and disconnected. Remote areas often experience problems with power supply and rely on diesel- or petrol-driven generators, which are expensive to purchase and maintain. Samsung’s Solar Power Generator presents an alternative solution. It provides easy power accessibility at an affordable price, saving communities money on electricity costs, which can be used in other, more important, areas – such as infrastructure,” said Ntutule Tshenye, Head of Public Affairs & Corporate Citizenship, Samsung Electronics Africa.
“The Dakar Summit aims at accelerating the implementation of projects in transport, rail, ports, energy and ICT. Samsung’s Internet School cost-effectively addresses two of these areas, bringing connectivity, electrification and education to rural areas by harnessing the power of the sun.”
Each SPIS is built in a 40-foot (12-metre) long repurposed shipping container, making them easily transportable via truck to remote areas. The schools are specifically designed for African conditions, and can withstand energy-scarce environments, harsh weather conditions and transportation over long distances.
The classrooms can comfortably accommodate 24 learners. They include several insulation layers and a ventilation system to ensure a pleasant environment is maintained. Each classroom is fitted with a 50-inch electronic whiteboard and different Samsung Notebooks and Netbooks, all of which are optimised for use in a solar-powered environment to stimulate interactive learning.
They can be used as adult learning centres in the evenings and on weekends, and by the community in general to establish and run small businesses. This will create employment and improve living conditions for community members.
Fold-away solar panels provide enough energy to power the classrooms’ equipment. The panels are made from rubber, rather than glass, ensuring they are hardy and durable enough to survive long journeys across the continent.
The SPIS forms part of Samsung’s ‘Built for Africa’ campaign, which focuses on developing advanced solutions that meet Africa’s unique needs, and its global ‘Hope for Children’ initiative, which strives to directly impact the lives of five million Africans by 2015.
Summit delegates agreed that addressing infrastructure bottlenecks in Africa will lead to economic growth and poverty alleviation, two key areas highlighted by the African Union (AU) and its New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).