Samsung solar powered internet school for DRC

Samsung Electronics Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC’s) Ministry of Primary, Secondary, and Vocational Education, Ministry of Primary, Secondary, and Vocational Education, handed over a Solar Powered Internet School (SPIS) at E.P.A 1&2 Limete School in Kinshasa.

This forms part of Samsung’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.

“We have set an ambitious goal for ourselves in Africa: to positively impact five million lives by 2015,” says Thierry Boulanger, B2B Africa Director at Samsung Electronics 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 launched 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.

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.

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. They form part of Samsung’s ‘Built for Africa’ campaign, which focuses on developing advanced solutions that meet Africa’s unique needs, and its global ‘Hope for Children’ initiative, which strives to directly impact the lives of five million Africans by 2015.

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.

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 E.P.A 1&2 Limete is equipped with, a high-speed Internet connection, 20 computers, audiovisual accessories and a video conferencing station.

The school is also a recipient of a Samsung Solar Power Generator, which was launched in March 2013 to provide easy power accessibility at an affordable price to schools and community centres across Africa. The 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.

“The Ministry of Education welcomes public-private partnerships such as these, which expose our learners to new technologies and information in interactive and engaging ways. I am confident that the Solar Powered Internet School will awaken a love of learning within our pupils and will open many doors for them. We thank Samsung and its partners, Vodacom DRC and Protech Nova, for their commitment to education in Africa and for showing our children what is possible through technology,” says Maker Mwangu Famba, Minister of Primary, Secondary, and Vocational Education.

Samsung Electronics Africa partnered with Vodacom DRC for the provision of broadband connections, and with Protech Nova on content development and site maintenance.

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