DigiTruck Brings Solar-Powered Mobile Learning Facilities To Rural Africa

Schools are scarce in remote parts of Africa. Over 75% of the population lives in rural communities where access to infrastructure and grid electricity presents a major challenge. And only 46% of rural students qualify for secondary education, due to poor quality primary schools.

So the non-profit organisation Close the Gap, in conjunction with Hoops of Hope and Arrow Electronics, came up with an innovative solution – the DigiTruck.

DigiTruck is 12 metre shipping container, mounted on a trailer, that operates as a solar-powered digital mobile classroom. It’s a fully mobile, grid-independent IT unit that can withstand Africa’s tough sub-Saharan conditions. DigiTruck accommodates eighteen students, and comes equipped with refurbished IT equipment including twenty laptops, a printer, two routers, two SSD disks, and an LED display.

Its integrated solar panels can power DigiTruck for several days at a time, and the design enables DigiTruck to also be configured as a mobile health centre, cybercafé, or community training facility. Construction includes LED lighting, insulation to protect against the heat, steel doors and bolted security windows to deter vandalism and theft.

DigiTruck is bringing digital education to remote populations. The first truck was constructed in January 2014 by local workers in Arusha, Tanzania, and is currently deployed at the Tuleeni orphanage in the rural village of Rau, in Africa’s Kilimanjaro region. The facility is home to roughly one hundred vulnerable and orphaned children.

In 2016, after spending several months at the orphanage, DigiTruck will move to its next location, but its current IT equipment will remain at the Tuleeni Orphanage. The truck will be fitted with new hardware for its next deployment. And plans are in progress to construct additional DigiTrucks for future deployment throughout Africa.

Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu endorsed the DigiTruck program in a November 19th ceremony marking Close The Gap’s 10th anniversary. “It’s a fantastic development and a wonderful birthday present for Close the Gap,” said Archbishop Tutu.

Close the Gap also distributes high-quality refurbished computers and other hardware to clinics and schools, in order to bridge the digital divide in developing nations. Over the past decade CTG has redeployed 440,000 computers, and reached 1.5 million users.

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