Africa starts to tap solar energy for IT

Governments and development organizations in Eastern and Southern Africa are starting to adopt solar energy to bolster energy resources for Information and Communication Technology in rural areas. The e-school project in Africa is already using solar energy to power computers in remote areas where schools are not connected to the national grid. Solar energy will have a positive impact on rural societies by enabling people to access computers and the Internet, said Paul Zambezi, Ministry of Science and Technology permanent secretary. A lack of electricity has made ISPs and mobile phone service providers hesitant to build capacity in rural areas. "Underutilization of solar energy is depriving rural areas of an opportunity to access information through ICT," Zambezi said.

The e-Africa Commission, in Johannesburg, which is chartered to develop ICT in Africa, wants more than 500,000 schools throughout Africa to have Internet connections by 2015. The head of the physics department at the University of Zambia, Geoffrey Munyeme, said social and economic development is inseparable from scientific and technological advances. "Africa has lagged behind in technology and harvesting solar energy to use for developmental programs," Munyeme said.

News source: InfoWorld

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

360 Manufacturer to Discontinue Production

Next Story

Microsoft: Two exclusives in two days

7 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

This I wanna see. Where can barely keep our national grid up to scratch. It's all good and well to hear about it, but over here they tend to run off with the money. :P

They would need to build large solar collector farms in the first place. Then they would need a connection to the national grid to export it. Once that's done, it might actually work.

I wonder if Africa (or other sunny places) can be used to harvest energy via solar?

Yes - that is genius!! Clean energy which requires open space + a lot of sunlight!

Is it economically viable to transport electricity over long distance cables or is the wastage too large?

hornett said,

Yes - that is genius!! Clean energy which requires open space + a lot of sunlight!

Is it economically viable to transport electricity over long distance cables or is the wastage too large?


The ultimate way to harvest solar energy is to launch a solar harvesting platform satellite tethered to a space elevator. Because of the enormous distances involved, relativistic delay would be an issue so you would have to use lasers to transmit the energy. Not sure what you'd use to receive it (water, helium gas, nanotech wafers?), but that would be an engineering problem that I think would be achievable. Of course, we're not nearly at that level of technology yet, but we're getting there.

To do terrestrial solar energy harvesting in Africa with a terminus point for the energy in Europe, I would suggest that conventional copper-wire cable would be the only viable solution at this point, and that the energy loss from resistance in the cable would be acceptable if you had a large enough farm of solar energy collectors. What the number are, I don't know, but I don't see any reason why you couldn't do it. Fibre-optic cables could be much more efficient transmitters of energy but IMHO the technology isn't mature enough for it to be considered viable at this point.