The Technology and Human Capacity Constraints for Sustainable ICT
Over the past 6 years, Inveneo and its 68 Inveneo Certified ICT Partners (ICIPs) have delivered innovative solutions and brought access to impactful ICTs to more than 1,700,000 people in over 700 communities in Haiti and 25 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
Along the way, we’ve found that appropriate technology and human constraints are the greatest limitations in integrating ICTs to improve social and economic development. ICT solutions need to be specifically designed for challenging environments and must be managed by local organizations with rural ICT expertise for ongoing support and expansion of these systems.
- Technology Constraints
- Expensive Electricity: Rural and other underserved locations rarely have a reliable electrical power infrastructure that can support a standard ICT implementation. Traditional computing systems are therefore cost-prohibitive because they require so much electricity – upwards of 200 watts per computer – when solar installations average $12 per watt.
- High Heat and Dust: Traditional computers, designed for use in air-conditioned office spaces, can fail when ambient air temperatures reach 38°C or 100°F in dusty settings. Under these conditions a computer can become useless if replacement parts are not available.
- Computer Viruses: Computer viruses are particularly problematic for underserved communities – the lack of connectivity and access to regular virus software updates often renders anti-virus protection useless over time.
- Lack of Connectivity: Local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) generally do not offer connectivity in the remote areas where we work and mobile phone data networks often have limited reach and can be prohibitively expensive.
- Human Capacity Constraints
- Inexperienced Users: Because they’ve not had access to ICT, inexperienced users often make simple mistakes that can render computers unusable.
- Distant Tech Support: All the previous challenges with ICT implementations in underserved communities are compounded by the lack of local capacity to provide technology support and maintenance. Without knowledgeable tech support, any mistake or user error can destroy a system, depriving the community of ICT’s benefits. Yet communities often do not have the means to keep qualified technicians in their midst.
At Inveneo, we directly address the two major challenges to implementation of ICTs in rural and other underserved communities – appropriate technology and human capacity – with two interlocking, sustainable solutions:
- Appropriate ICT systems: computers, servers, software, wireless connectivity designed specifically for the local challenges these communities face, and
- Local capacity building through partner networks of in-country ICT experts who can deliver the installation and ongoing support that is critical for the long-term sustainability of technology projects.
Inveneo’s solutions have real impact with organizations that deliver vital education, healthcare, economic development and relief services to some of the poorest communities in the world. We enable these organizations – NGOs, governments and others – to more effectively serve people in need through technology. We’ve created sustainable community knowledge centers in Kenya accelerated microfinance institutions in Sierra Leone, and brought access to life-changing ICTs in Haiti.