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Dell expands solar schools

Dell has announced that it will be expanding its solar-powered Learning Labs across South Africa to include new sites in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Sedibeng.

In conjunction with a Think Tank discussing technology in education and classrooms of the future at Brescia House School today, Dell today announced that it will expand its solar-powered Learning Labs across South Africa. This includes new sites in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Sedibeng that will be operational by March 2015. The expansion follows a successful pilot in 2013, and Dell will now have nine labs providing direct technology access to more than 3,000 underprivileged students in communities where technology infrastructure is limited.

There are 72 million children worldwide who are not in school and lack access to facilities, teachers and the technology they need for a better education. Dell believes that access to education and technology is not a luxury, but a necessity.

“There are 72 million children worldwide who are not in school and lack access to facilities, teachers and the technology they need for a better education,” said Michael Collins, vice president and general manager of EMEA Emerging Markets, Dell. “Technology plays such an important role in the world today and it’s critical for all young people to firstly have access to technology and secondly to gain practical experience and know-how. Ultimately Dell is committed to breaking down the barriers of IT literacy and we believe access to education and technology is not a luxury, but a necessity.”

The Dell solar-powered Learning Labs are comprised of a standard shipping container that is converted into a computer classroom, and because access to electricity is a big barrier in Africa, Dell has designed the labs to harness the power from the sun to power the technology and internet connectivity for these students.

Each lab contains one server with Microsoft Multipoint Server and/or VWorkspace, used by the teacher, and networks to the 10 zero or thin-client workstations lining the sides of the container. All users are then able to access a local internet service, which is paid for by Dell. The setup is also highly efficient, with each workstation requiring just 3 – 5 watts of power, as opposed to 150 watts for a typical PC.

Dell has also made several improvements to the design of the labs, based on learnings from the pilot. The labs now have increased computing power in order to further enable children in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects including coding and graphics works. The new labs have been built with fresh air-cooled servers, a better solution for hotter climates, and Dell has also brought in a new partner, Sunpower, to provide solar power for eight of the labs.

Dell solar-powered Learning Labs are made possible by Dell’s Youth Learning program, which seeks to close the learning gap by partnering directly with non-profits to provide innovative technology solutions, charitable donations and expertise to address challenges faced by underserved youth around the world where Dell operates. The labs are located in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Sedibeng and will be operational by the end of March 2015. Dell global Youth Learning projects include China, India, Morocco and the Philippines.

“We are delighted to be enabling these important conversations with top education leaders in South Africa today and are excited to discuss actionable ideas to improve key challenges in education technology in the area. Dell Learning Labs have afforded thousands of school students and community youth the opportunity to develop 21st century skills through enriching, technology-based learning,” said Jon Phillips, managing director, worldwide education, Dell. “At Dell we are proud to be involved in such significant projects and conversations and look forward to bringing access to more students around the world.”

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Africa News

Africa gets broadband boost

ITU and Nexpedience, a supplier of proprietary point-to-multipoint broadband infrastructure, are partnering to bring broadband access to Africa.

Under the terms of the deal, Nexpedience will provide 180 new Expedience base stations worth USD 1 million, to be deployed in six nations across the continent. The first nation to benefit from the new infrastructure is Burundi, with deployments also planned for Djibouti, Burkina Faso, Mali, Rwanda and Swaziland.

Designed to withstand extreme meteorological conditions and capable of providing up to 32 kilometres of sector coverage, Nexpedience’s base stations have been specifically designed for rural deployment.

ITU’s Wireless Broadband Network in Africa project aims to develop and implement wireless broadband connectivity and applications that will provide free or low-cost digital access for schools, hospitals, and under-served populations in rural and remote areas Africa-wide.

At the signing of the agreement in Geneva, Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) emphasized the need to make developing countries part of the global broadband revolution: ‚”This partnership represents another important element in ITU’s efforts to bring broadband technology to the world even in the poorest nations. I am confident that this new partnership will accelerate broadband uptake right across the African continent, bringing the power of high-speed connectivity to users everywhere, from big cities to small villages.‚”

Kiriako Vergos, CEO of Nexpedience said: ‚”Giving access to broadband technology to underserved populations in Africa is of great importance to us. There are enormous benefits to be derived from a ‚’broadband-seed’ deployment strategy, and we decided to partner with ITU because we know that the organization has the team in place to get it done.‚”

ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Tour√© said the new agreement is a ‚”major step forward in getting Africa connected‚”. Dr Tour√© led the establishment of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development in 2010, which has the aim of putting broadband at the heart of the global development agenda.

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Nokia backs tech hubs for developing world

Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev are collaborating with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America to act as scouts for local talent.

Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev, a global innovation program of the World Bank, have announced a collaboration with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America – a move that will empower these hubs to act as scouts and agents for local talent, fast-tracking their access to AppCampus funding.

AppCampus was established in 2012 as a mobile application accelerator program managed by Aalto University in Finland. With an 18 million euro joint investment between Microsoft and Nokia, the aim is to foster mobile application development on Windows Phone and any other Nokia platform.

The announcement earmarks part of that investment fund for twenty six awards per annum for the best mobile innovation ideas to be made via the mobile innovation hub network, starting with infoDev’s mobile application labs in South Africa, Kenya, Armenia and Vietnam, as well as mobile application laboratories in Egypt (TIEC), Nigeria (CC Hub) and Mexico. The value of each award ranges from 20,000 Euro (US$ 26,000) to 70,000 Euro (US$ 90,000) depending on the complexity of the solution or business model behind the idea.

‚”By working jointly with the mobile innovation hubs, we are able to connect more effectively with local developers in emerging markets and provide support in terms of funding, especially for locally relevant innovations,‚” says Pekka Sivonen, Head of AppCampus. ‚”Although the criteria to access the AppCampus funding remains the same, with ideas needing to be original, competitive and scalable, the advantage is faster processing and the mentorship provided by these innovation hubs.‚”

The hubs and mLabs will be responsible for scouting talent and vetting ideas to be submitted to the global pool. infoDev’s mLabs foster regional entrepreneurship, employment and competitiveness by providing open spaces where developers can find training, mentoring, technical expertise and access to financing. In a short time, mLab-supported startups have brought over 120 commercial apps to market The best new entries from this network will compete against each other each quarter for the available awards.

‚”Nokia, working closely with infoDev, has supported the establishment and operation of a number of mLabs across emerging markets in support of local developers,‚” says Jussi Hinkkanen, vice president corporate relations for Nokia Middle East and Africa. ‚”The AppCampus collaboration showcases our commitment to strengthening the growing mLab network around the world and infoDev’s vision of supporting emerging market entrepreneurs in conquering local, regional and global markets‚”.

The official launch of the program took place during the mobile stream at the Global Forum on Innovation & Technology Entrepreneurship in East London, South Africa, organized by infoDev and the South African Department of Science & Technology. A key theme of the Forum is how innovation can lead to high-growth entrepreneurship which creates sustainable jobs. Valerie D’Costa, infoDev’s Program Manager says, ‚”The AppCampus initiative fits with the philosophy of infoDev of supporting innovative entrepreneurs from developing countries. We want to support those who can excel with some level of mentorship, skills training and seed financing. We provide potential job-creators better access to markets, which is what we are all about.‚”

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