Why was the SolarBerry developed?
There are currently 3.66 billion people worldwide without access to the internet; 1.19 billion of these people live without access to electricity. However, the situation is worse in rural sub-Saharan Africa where only 19% of the population has access to electricity. In Malawi where we currently work, 98% of schools are without access to a computer (UNESCO, 2015). The rapid growth of the ICT sector in Africa predominately benefits urban communities. This is because it is more expensive for governments to bring electricity and subsequently ICTs to rural, off-grid areas. The result is that these already poor communities face being further marginalised from today’s digital world. This is limiting their potential as they lack access to ICT based educational resources which are easier to access and more up to date than many more traditional learning materials.

What is a SolarBerry?
The SolarBerry is an innovative IT lab developed by the Turing Trust. Held within a repurposed shipping container, it is solar-powered and uses energy-efficient Raspberry Pi computers.
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The solar panels which are part of the design will generate more energy than is needed to run the IT lab, thanks to the efficiency of the Raspberry Pis which use 100 times less energy than a traditional desktop PC. This means excess electricity can be sold back to the grid or used locally, generating income to support the financing of another SolarBerry and so extending the benefit to more rural communities.

Who designed the SolarBerry?

Project leads:
Andrew Clark, Brian Ferguson and James Turing
Engineering design:
John Wilson, Jim Douglas and Ian Campbell from the Rotary Club of Curry Balerno
Software development:
Shanti Bhardwa, Michael Sharrock, Prashant Bhardwaj, Barclays Technology Centre, Radbroke
SolarBerry PV, Thermal and Structural Feasibility Study
Antoine Dao, Christopher Short, Buro Happold
Solar output monitoring and control system
Sam Gray, Administrate

Much time and expertise has gone into this – at Turing Talks you will get an opportunity to talk to some of the team involved and hear about how they addressed the challenges they faced.