Dell sends solar powered lab to Nigeria to boost access to education and opportunities for the future


Computer giant Dell has announced its first solar powered lab in Africa to provide increased opportunities for learning to students with little or no access to technology or the Internet.

The solar powered lab -  known as the ZubaBox mobile classroom - which has arrived on-site at a senior school in Nigeria's largest city, Lagos, removes the need to connect to any electrical infrastructure and provides an affordable education solution for the local community.

The Dell ZubaBox opens up new teaching possibilities and the personal development of students through enhanced training and education.  Many people in developing countries, particularly in rural areas, have limited access to electricity and the Internet. The ZubaBox concept, which comprises a standard shipping container that is converted into a mobile classroom, was pioneered by UK based charity Computer Aid International to harness the power from the sun and to provide internet connectivity for students in communities. In this way, the ZubaBox classrooms help raise awareness of the outside world among students and enhance their learning to create long-term career opportunities.

Through this ZubaBox innovation, children will have the opportunity to excel in both life and education, becoming better citizens through access to information which will in turn open more doors for their future. With its ZubaBox now in place, Dell is also working with charity partner Camara to engage with teachers and provide them with the training they will need to make best use of the technology available to them. This training extends from the use of Windows Multipoint Server and Zero client technology itself to the establishment of a curriculum that will maximise the benefits of accessing the shared computing system.

Working in close partnership with Computer Aid on the project, Dell installed a Dell Wyse shared computing system in the ZubaBox consisting of one powerful PC networked to ten ‘zero client' workstations. This not only gives the teacher full visibility of what the students are working on across each of the ten monitors but offers centralised control of the class to keep everyone focussed on the current task.  With solar panels mounted on the roof, the ZubaBox can be placed virtually anywhere, eliminating the need for fixed electrical infrastructure to power the PCs. The ZubaBox is also highly efficient to run as only the primary PC used by the teacher needs to be powered, with each of the workstations requiring just 3 watts. In addition, the panels charge a battery bank during the day which allows the classroom to be used after dark if required. Dell's commitment to the project was instrumental in bringing its various components together and in ensuring seamless cooperation between Dell and its three charity partners.

Education plays a vital role in breaking the cycle of poverty and inequality in underdeveloped communities. As an extension of the work that Dell has done in Nigeria, Dell is participating in the conference e-learning Africa conference which is taking place in Namibia, where it will showcase the educational possibilities of the ZubaBox to teachers, educators and government influencers from across the continent.

David Angwin, Marketing Director, Dell EMEA said: "Technology is a powerful enabler, while connectivity and access have become vital tools that children all over the world need to be able to further their education. Part of our role as a global technology leader is to work together with our partners to broaden the perspectives and confidence of children to encourage them to see the wider world and to provide them with a brighter future. With the ZubaBox we can make this a reality, bringing access to new educational opportunities every day."

Computer Aid's Executive Chair, Keith Sonnet added: "Computer Aid is delighted to be working with Dell on this project and we hope to be able to provide many more ZubaBoxes to disadvantaged communities across Africa. Corporate partners, such as Dell who sponsor a ZubaBox, play a real role in development and poverty relief. By sponsoring one ZubaBox, companies can benefit an entire community by providing the ICT to support education, healthcare and business."