Samsung unveils solar-powered school in DRC


Samsung Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC's) Ministry of Primary, Secondary, and Vocational Education officially handed over a solar-powered Internet school (SPIS) in Kinshasa.

According to Samsung, this forms part of company's efforts to improve learning and education through the use of new information and communication technologies in rural areas in Africa. It is also part of a government initiative to modernise the national education system through the acquisition of appropriate materials and tools.

"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," says Samsung.

"Fold-away solar panels provide enough energy to power the classrooms' equipment for up to nine hours a day, and for one-and-a-half days without any sunlight. The solar panels are made from rubber, rather than glass, ensuring they are hardy and durable enough to survive long journeys across the continent," notes the electronic decives maker.

According to Samsung, the classrooms can comfortably accommodate 24 learners, and include several insulation layers and a ventilation system, to ensure a pleasant environment is maintained. Each classroom is fitted with a 50-inch electronic E-Board and different Samsung notebooks and netbooks, all of which are optimised for use in a solar-powered environment to stimulate interactive learning.

The classroom at one of the schools is equipped with, a high-speed Internet connection, 20 computers, audiovisual accessories and a video conferencing station.

Samsung has set an ambitious goal for itself in Africa: to positively impact five million lives by 2015, says Thierry Boulanger, business to business (B2B) Africa director at Samsung Africa.

"We believe that this can most effectively be achieved if we connect our CSR initiatives with our history and core business. With the goal to grow our business on the continent, we also know that we have to sustain our level of innovation. This can only be achieved if we invest in education to facilitate African thought-leadership. The solar powered Internet school is a great example of this strategy at play."

First unveiled in 2011, with installations in many countries throughout Africa, the mobile Internet schools are completely independent classrooms that aim to increase accessibility to education and connectivity in remote areas of Africa, says Samsung.

According to Samsung, less than 25% of the continent's rural areas have access to reliable electricity supplies, leaving many isolated and disconnected – not only in terms of electrification, but also when it comes to basic services, such as education, connectivity and healthcare.

The school's generator can provide power for up to eight years before the batteries need refreshing. It will assist the school in lowering its energy costs, thus freeing up money for more pressing issues, such as infrastructure development.