PEAS have built a network of 28 sustainable secondary schools across Uganda. Each school contributes to long-term societal change, poverty reduction and the empowerment of young people in sub-Saharan Africa. PEAS build schools in areas where children would otherwise struggle to access secondary school. Given that PEAS schools are often built in remote, hard-to-reach areas, many schools do not have access to running water or mains electricity.

COINS Foundation has granted a sum of £50,000 to PEAS to carry out the next round of solar installations at five schools, which will also have computer and Internet access. This follows on from the 6Kwp solar project with COINS Foundation and PEAS in 2015 at Pioneer High School in the Mityana district. Since that installation two years ago the school is generating between 13 and 17 kWh per day, so the installation is generating a lot more than the school is consuming daily. To make full use of the installation and the excess power that’s being generated we’re now going to be working with PEAS and our tech partner NanoFab Tools to develop a business model to sell on the excess power to the local community. This could be charging their mobile phones or small lanterns. One alternate option could be to use the excess electricity at the school to pump water. Reliable clean water would be a valuable commodity for the local community as water shortage is a real issue in the area.

Huge technological advances have been made over two years – the cost of lithium ion has plummeted by more than 70%! This has forced other technologies such as flow batteries to also cut costs to remain competitive. For this round of installations we are working with Aleutia – a company founded in 2006 by Mike Rosenberg. A year previously, Mike volunteered in Ghana to set up a computer classroom for street children and was faced with the challenge of failing and expensive second-hand desktops. The costs of power crippled the project and he thought there must be a better way.

A year later Aleutia released its first product, a fanless energy efficient computer, and everything since then has followed the same design principle of ‘no moving parts’ reliability and exceptionally low power consumption. The company has also launched SolarEnabler, a “plug –and-play” box that provides everything you need for solar power in a wall-mounted box with constant 2G connectivity.

Aleutia computers operate in 63 countries from Afghanistan to Zambia. Solar classroom in a box provides non-profits and schools with rugged PCs and all the solar equipment needed to run them anywhere. It’s been deployed in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.

Our computers are unique in their incredibly low energy consumption, which makes solar affordable. It is making a big difference in rural primary health centres - a single computer can register 800 patients a month and record their symptoms and conditions. It is solar-powered hardware that provides transformative big data for health ministries.

Mike Rosenberg, Founder of Aleutia

We’re looking forward to our next trip to visit the PEAS schools, scheduled for April 2017 with Crossform Media.