Inveneo Sustainable Computing Archives

Digital Literacy for Haiti Rebuilding

  1. Posted by Aaron Mason on April 15, 2013 in the categories: News

Mercidieu François assisting two DLHR participants at College Mahatma Gandhi
Mercidieu François assisting two DLHR participants at College Mahatma Gandhi

The riverside city of Hinche sits high on Haiti’s fertile central plain, sixty miles northeast of the country’s capital of Port-au-Prince. A rural community of roughly 50,000, Hinche has remained untouched by many modern conveniences. Before municipal electricity became available in 2012 townspeople would gather outside the mayor’s office to watch a single television screen swiveled to face out into the street. A few of the city’s central streets have been paved with concrete, but many of the city’s straining oxcarts and pickup trucks still travel over knobby dirt and gravel roads. And while many carry mobile phones, access to computers and the Internet has been nearly nonexistent.

In the spring of 2012 Inveneo and NetHope launched the Intel-funded Digital Literacy for Haiti Rebuilding (DLHR) program, providing basic computer training to more than a thousand community members in rural Haitian communities like Hinche. The majority of participants come directly from the small, rural communities where the training center computer labs are located; some ford rivers and walk for several hours to attend the trainings. For many, this is their first time touching a computer. Learning quickly, they use their new skills to further their education, improve their businesses or hunt for a job.

The DLHR program builds off of one of Inveneo’s previous projects: the Haiti Connected Schools (HCS) program. Through the HCS program Inveneo and their Haitian IT partners deployed solar-powered computer labs in schools in 40 locations across rural Haiti. Connected to the Internet, these labs provide an opportunity for students, teachers and administrators to augment academic lessons with computer-based technologies.

By making use of resources already deployed in the field, the DLHR program expands accessibility to community members based near these schools. Both schools and communities benefit from the program: schools gain long-term financial sustainability of the computer labs by offering computer training beyond the school population; community members learn computer and Internet basics, skills that help them participate in a modern economy. Local teachers, technicians and interested community members also have opportunities to participate in advanced training modules and become Community IT Instructors. These Community IT Instructors form the backbone of the program, inspiring other community members and acting as a local resource to provide computer training long beyond the limited timeframe of the program.

One of these Community IT Instructors is Mercidieu François. Mercidieu was hired as a lab administrator at College Mahatma Gandhi in Hinche after the school received a computer lab through HCS. The young Haitian had previously completed a year of Microsoft Office training at a local vocational school and had some experience teaching, but had never received formal training as a teacher. Mercidieu jumped at the opportunity to participate in the training to become a Community IT Instructor.

Mercidieu presenting at the December DLHR workshop
Mercidieu presenting at the December DLHR workshop

Together with teachers and technicians from all over Haiti, Mercidieu participated in two workshops on teaching techniques. He learned about lesson planning, teaching methods and pedagogy and how to use IT in the classroom. Mercidieu says the workshops helped him formalize his understanding of what it means to be a teacher.

“It was a good experience for me,” said Mercidieu. “I learned some strategies I can use with my future students and I love the simplicity of the documentation they used to teach… From these workshops, I learned about questions to ask myself when I have to plan a lesson… What makes me happy about participating in this program is that it has helped me to learn how I can teach effectively.”

During the first community training in Hinche, Mercidieu started as an observer, quickly moving into more active roles, first as an assistant instructor and then as lead instructor. Today Mercidieu coordinates and teaches computer classes for students and community members, and uses his experience to coach other teachers.

With this experience and training, Mercidieu has become known in his community as a capable and qualified computer instructor, with schools and colleges in and around Hinche asking him to teach classes. The additional income from teaching these courses allows Mercidieu to continue his studies at Queensland University in Hinche. In addition to the financial benefits, Mercidieu values the way the DLHR program has grown his ability to share his enthusiasm for learning and teaching computer concepts:

“As a teacher of computers and Microsoft Office, after completing two sessions on the techniques of teaching, there is in me a kind of metamorphosis. That is to say, a transformation in the way I expose courses now in different institutions in my home area… I am practicing [different techniques of facilitation] and I am teaching in a better way.”

All told, DLHR is expected to train 40 IT instructors, providing skills and access to over 3000 community members throughout rural Haiti. With 30 trainers working and over 700 students enrolled so far, Mercidieu and his cohort are well on their way.

Mercidieu and a fellow community IT instructor prepare a lesson plan for a class on Microsoft Excel 2010.
Mercidieu and a fellow community IT instructor prepare a lesson plan for a class on Microsoft Excel 2010

Inveneo Awarded the Internet Now! Project in Uganda

  1. Posted by Inveneo on April 5, 2012 in the categories: Economic Development, News, Projects

Inveneo has been selected for the Internet infrastructure segment of the newly launched Internet Now! Project in Uganda. Working with Oxfam Novib, Arid Lands Information Network, and Samasource, Inveneo will provide computer hardware and Internet connection to 100 planned ICT work centers, all of which are targeted for rural Northern Ugandan regions.

The Internet Now! project aims to implement 100 ICT work centers, that will offer outsourced ICT data services, wireless Internet access via a wireless café hotspot model, and services such as agricultural education and crop pricing information. All of this with the goal to generate increased income and employment in rural communities of northern Uganda.

The network of 100 ICT centers will cover a total population of 872,000 people in the districts of Adjumani, Amuru/Gulu and Moyo. Each center will have two fully equipped and renovated rooms with 10 PC workstations for visitors to use. All centers will be stand-alone solar powered, independent from a grid, and are staffed with a Field Officer and two Knowledge Facilitators, who will provide training and support to center visitors.

Inveneo in conjunction with CLS Ltd., an Inveneo Certified ICT Partner in Uganda, will deploy energy-efficient, high performance computers and reliable Internet connections at each center. In addition, Inveneo will lead the network backbone planning and negotiations with Ugandan ISP’s and wireless carriers.

Inveneo is excited to be part of the Internet Now! project as it will bring Internet connectivity and employment opportunities to an area of Africa where such needs and potential benefits are great.

Inveneo Buyers Guide to Sustainable ICT Infrastructure in Low Resource Settings

  1. Posted by Inveneo on January 18, 2012 in the categories: News, Publications

The Inveneo Buyers Guide to Sustainable ICT Infrastructure in Low Resource Settings is intended to serve as a planning tool for deploying information and communications technologies (ICTs) in low resource settings – i.e., communities lacking basic support infrastructure, such as grid power and broadband connectivity, and where computer skills among users and facilities managers are often limited.

It highlights the most important considerations in the selection, design, deployment and support of general facilities, ICT tools and supporting power systems. We have intentionally not addressed the complicated issue of mobile computing devices, opting instead to focus on the challenges facing those planning to deploy and operate shared access computing facilities such as school computer labs, community knowledge centers (CKCs), process outsourcing facilities, etc.

The ICT Buyers Guide is divided into two sections. Part 1 covers the key factors to consider in selecting major infrastructure components, from buildings and facilities to computers, peripherals, software and connectivity. Part 2 discusses infrastructure support and logistical issues around deployment.

Because there are many topics to cover, and to keep this resource as short and accessible as possible, each section starts with a brief introduction, followed, where appropriate, by a simple bullet list of key points to consider.

We invite you to provide your feedback on this document and ideas for improving it via email at

Congratulations to the Ekialo Kiona Center!

  1. Posted by Inveneo on August 18, 2011 in the categories: Healthcare, News, Projects, Sectors

The Ekialo Kiona Center serves as an invaluable educational workshop facility for Kenyan students, teachers, health workers, farmers, fisherman, and other interested community members as Mfangano Island’s only public internet access.

Thanks to Craig Newmark, the Craigslist Charitable Foundation, and Google. Inc Charitable Giving Fund of Tides Foundation, the Ekialo Kiona Center now has 10 new Inveneo High Performance Computing Stations and an updated solar power system that supports over 17 computers. As a result, Executive Director Richard Magerenge says:

“The IT room has given the center a new look. People are flocking the computers just to touch them. The word is going round so fast and many people are coming either to see the computers or join the EK club.”

The Ekialo Kiona Center also supports the innovative Cyber-VCT program which leverages intense local enthusiasm for Internet to provide a meaningful incentive and a valid excuse for residents to overcome the stigma and scrutiny commonly associated with stand-alone Voluntary Counseling and Testing centers for HIV and AIDS.

Inveneo is proud to be a facilitator of this unique model and the Ekialo Kiona Center overall.

Inveneo Solar Power Deployment Guide for ICT Projects

  1. Posted by Inveneo on June 28, 2011 in the categories: News, Publications

Many people believe that solar power is too expensive to use for powering computer installations in remote or rural areas that are without a connection to the AC grid. However, there have been two recent developments that have significantly lowered the cost of solar.

  1. The power consumption requirement of low-cost computers and peripherals has come down considerably.
  2. The cost of solar panels has dropped dramatically, with some panels selling in the US for as much at 70% less than typical 2008 prices.

If you are thinking about deploying computers in remote rural locations or in countries with erratic grid power, the cost of reliable, long-term, low-maintenance power has never been lower.

Inveneo Solar Power Deployment Guide

The Inveneo Solar Power Deployment Guide will show you how to specify, design and build your own small-scale self-contained solar power system. The guide’s purpose is not to make you a world-class expert on solar technology. Rather, we will take a “hands-on” approach, emphasizing a step-by-step method to designing and building truly practical solar systems.

As there are a large number of “tricks of the trade” involved when installing a solar system, we do not usually recommend a do-it-yourself approach for beginners. It is better to work with an experienced solar installer, especially if you have never worked with solar or other power systems before.

After reading this guide, you should be able to estimate the size, level of complexity and cost of small to medium- sized PC installations, and you will understand the basic theory and practice. This guide is focused on completely battery-operated PC and network installations. It does not discuss battery backup systems for generator- or AC- grid-powered locations.

More Information

If you would like to read a high-level summary on the viability and usefulness of solar power systems, you can refer to the Intel Corporation paper, “Solar Power for PC Deployments: Enabling ICT Beyond the Grid“. We have also developed a list of Solar Power Resources for Designing PV Systems in Rural Computer Projects