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When the only connectivity in an environment is offered by commercial network operators, Internet development tends to be slow. This has certainly been the case in my home, Nigeria, where every improvement of performance and accessibility has generally been accompanied by an increase in cost.

However, things are starting to change. In this post I will discuss how community-centric networks are playing a part in reducing costs and increasing accessibility in developing economies such as Nigeria.

The Maendeleo Foundation through its Mobile Solar Computer Classroom Project has secured a US$ 3,000 FIRE Africa Award. The Mobile Solar Computer Classroom consists of a modified all terrain vehicle equipped with a solar system, low-power laptops, an internet router, a tent, chairs and tables.

Kibiribiri Primary School is one out of the 10 rural schools in Uganda, which the Mobile Solar Computer Classroom Project is empowering with relevant computer skills. In a country where only 10% of the population has access to electricity, 23% have access to the Internet and the costs of access high; the quality of learning is highly affected. Most schools stick to rote learning where students repeat after a teacher and take notes from the blackboard. There is no research or supplementing the learning resources at all.

The Ubongo Kids Project received a US$ 3,000 FIRE Africa Award in 2017 at the Internet Governance Forum. The Ubongo Kids TV and radio show is helping over 6 million kids in East Africa develop the skills they will need for success in our future. In new episodes of Ubongo Kids, produced with support from AFRINIC (the Africa Internet Registry) which broadcasts in Kiswahili, Kinyarwanda, English and French, young learners are introduced to future-ready skills from coding to methods of assessing the accuracy of information. They also learn financial literacy skills like budgeting, and are encouraged to have a growth mindset (the belief that they can grow their own intelligence) and to stick-to-it with grit. 

The African Renewable Energy Distributor (ARED) project has secured a US$ 3,000 FIRE Africa Award. ARED is a turnkey solution for people in Africa to start up their own micro-business through a franchised model that uses a mobile solar kiosk platform for charging electronic devices amongst other services.

The idea came to Nyakarundi when he saw many people trying to charge their phones at places like airports. However, he soon realised that charging alone wouldn’t be a sustainable business model, so he improved it to include additional digital services. The Shiriki Hub is innovative hardtech technology on two fronts.

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