Kenyan company rolls out 'Solar Classroom in a Box'

Computing

Kenyan technology company, Stonehouse, plans to roll out a new system called 'Solar Classroom in a Box' for rural schools with no access to electricity in Kenya.

Learners will have access to low voltage solar powered computers for educational purposes.

The packaged system invented by founders of UK company, Aleutia, comes with 'specially designed for Africa' computers', open source education software and all the solar equipment needed to run a computer suite for an average of 50 hours per week.

The steel coated 16 GB RAM computers, weighing 0.9kg and only 20 by 18 by 3.5cm in size, require a fifth of energy compared to traditional desktops.

“One computer can use 130 volts, while five Aleutia computers use the equivalent,” said Stonehouse Chief Executive, Martin Muckle.

Other features include simple maintenance with only six parts, two of which are the steel casing and the ability to be dismantled with a screw driver. No fan is used, reducing the amount of dust.

One of the beneficiaries of the project is Rubiri Primary School near Lake Naivasha in Rift Valley, which has been equipped with the complete solar powered computer laboratory exclusively for educational purposes.

The school has more than 500 students and received the system on donation through fund-raising by students at a private school in Nairobi. The Aleutia Solar Classroom in a Box costs $ 16,000.

The system allows ten computer stations to run for up to eight hours a day, while the design, which includes no moving parts, uses Open Source software and can be maintained remotely, is resilient even in hot and dusty conditions.

Stonehouse has installed the system in two schools in Kenya and plans to provide more school children in developing countries with access to computer-based learning.

According to Muckle, surveys are currently on-going in Uganda as part of plans to roll out a pilot project in that country.