Inveneo Sustainability Archives

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

Accelerating Broadband to the First Mile – an Inveneo White Paper

  1. Posted by Inveneo on April 27, 2011 in the categories: News, Publications

Just 9.6% of the total population in Africa has access to the Internet. This is less than 1/5th and 1/6th of the rate in the Americas and Europe, respectively. But this statistic does not convey the real situation in the world’s poorest countries. Of Africa’s 48 sub-­Saharan countries, 29 (60%) have total Internet usage rates (at any speed) of less than 3%, and 15 (31%) show less than 1%. Broadband access rates are far lower still.

Thus, while wireless broadband has exploded in much of the world, as the ITU’s 2009 report points out, there remains “a dramatic broadband divide, with very few fixed broadband subscribers or mobile broadband subscriptions in Africa.”

Inveneo believes that closing the broadband gap will require new, collaborative and low-cost broadband service delivery models. Moreover, we believe that the essential components of such a model already exist; what’s needed is a well-conceived and coordinated effort to bring them together in a functioning service delivery framework.

In the Accelerating Broadband to the First Mile white paper, Inveneo and our partners are working to define and deploy a novel, locally sustainable wireless broadband delivery model, starting in Haiti.

The Inveneo­-led Haiti Rural Broadband (HRB) initiative is a collaborative program seeking to catalyze sustainable broadband access in underserved parts of Haiti. The program is founded on the idea that dramatic capital and operating cost savings can be realized through the use of ultra-low-cost wireless technologies, an emphasis on building local IT capacity to deploy and support broadband infrastructure and new approaches to cooperative network ownership and management.

HRB’s primary short-term objective is to bring affordable, reliable and sustainable broadband access to 6 regions and 20 currently un-served population centers across Haiti. The longer-term goal is to explore how the HRB model can be replicated in similarly rural and low resource areas across the developing world.

The Technology and Human Capacity Constraints for Sustainable ICT

  1. Posted by Inveneo on February 2, 2011 in the categories: News

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Our Solution

WiFi installation in DRC

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:

  1. Appropriate ICT systems: computers, servers, software, wireless connectivity designed specifically for the local challenges these communities face, and
  2. 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.

Inveneo ICT Sustainability Primer: What to consider when designing ICT projects for low-resource environments

  1. Posted by Inveneo on November 9, 2010 in the categories: News, Publications

Since 2006, Inveneo and our Certified ICT Partners have delivered innovative information and communication technology (ICT) solutions reaching more than 1,500,000 people in over 500 communities in 25 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Haiti.

We’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way on how to make an ICT project sustainable in resource-constrained environments, and we’re like to share them with you.
ICT sustainability primer.jpg

Inveneo ICT Sustainability Primer

Inveneo specializes in delivering sustainable solutions for challenging rural and underserved environments. We design and build affordable, robust and reliable ICT systems for locations that have little power or Internet service. These areas often lack the local expertise necessary to successfully deploy and maintain technology. Therefore, we devote a large part of our efforts toward skills development.

Our goal with the Inveneo ICT Sustainability Primer (PDF) is to present these lessons as guidance to those planning ICT-intensive projects in low-resource settings in order to help them avoid common pitfalls. We cover everything from project management to ICT and power infrastructure, to support and facilities.

Yet we don’t pretend to have all the answers – we welcome your feedback and input to improve the sustainability of all ICT projects. Please email your comments and we’ll incorporate them into future editions of the Primer.