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.