Arrow Electronics and the non-profit organisations Close the Gap and Hoops of Hope collaborate to turn used cargo containers into fully equipped digital classrooms and health clinics that can be deployed to remote areas of Africa.
The first “DigiTruck” in Africa was unveiled to the Tuleeni Orphanage in Tanzania in early August. The DigiTruck is now providing some 80 orphans at Tuleeni with a classroom full of high-quality, refurbished laptops, tablets and other IT equipment.
“Arrow Electronics is committed to finding innovative ways that technology can improve people’s lives,” said Michael J. Long, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Arrow. “From our semi-autonomous motorcar (SAM) project that enabled a quadriplegic former racecar driver to realise his dream of driving again, to this DigiTruck project that is providing orphans in sub-Saharan Africa with their first computers, Arrow is guiding innovation forward in incredible ways. Close the Gap, Hoops of Hope and Neema International’s Tuleeni Orphanage are doing great work, and Arrow is fortunate to collaborate with such inspiring organisations.”
According to UNESCO, more than 182 million adults in sub-Saharan Africa are unable to read or write, and 48 million young people are illiterate.1 Access to information and communication technology is critical to improving a country’s educational and economic prospects. However, high equipment costs, poor infrastructure and limited proficiency all prevent this much-needed technology from reaching many parts of Africa.
“For more than 10 years, Close the Gap has been removing barriers to digital literacy in developing countries. More than 75 percent of the population in Africa live in rural communities where infrastructure presents a huge barrier—modern information and communication technologies coupled with solar-powered solutions like the DigiTruck are able to help bridge this digital divide and to bring quality training and education to remote communities. With the support of partners like Arrow Electronics, Close the Gap is honoured to be a part of the work of Tuleeni Orphanage and make a positive impact in the lives of these orphans,” said Olivier Vanden Eynde, founder and managing director of Close the Gap.
The DigiTruck can accommodate up to 18 students at a time in a classroom setting. It is equipped with solar panels capable of fully powering it for several days at a time so it can reach remote rural villages with no electricity. The DigiTruck is also triple-insulated to protect against the heat and secured with double steel doors and bolted window shutters.
Donated IT equipment refurbished by Arrow’s Value Recovery business inside the DigiTruck includes laptops, tablets, printers, routers and a LED TV flat-screen monitor. Local workers in Arusha, Tanzania helped to build the truck.
“Arrow Electronics and Close the Gap have the power to turn lives around,” said Mandy Stein, the founder and executive director of Neema International, the organisation supporting the Tuleeni Orphanage. “They are changing my kids’ worlds—with the computers and DigiTruck, their dreams now are within reach.”
The DigiTruck will spend the next several months at the Tuleeni Orphanage before moving onto its next location in 2016. Arrow will donate all of the laptops and IT equipment to the Tuleeni Orphanage when the DigiTruck moves on, providing a permanent learning environment for the orphans. Arrow will also outfit the DigiTruck with additional refurbished equipment for its next stops.
Working together, Arrow and Close the Gap plan to build and deploy a number of additional DigiTrucks throughout Africa. In fact, following Arrow’s sponsorship of Close the Gap’s first DigiTruck, four other companies pledged to sponsor similar units.
Arrow’s Value Recovery business, which donated the refurbished electronic devices inside the DigiTruck, works with its customers to securely refurbish computers, tablets, smartphones and other electronic devices for additional use, or repurpose their still-valuable component parts for other uses. Whenever possible, Arrow emphasizes extending the life of these devices by selling them, redeploying them within organisations or donating them.
The provision of the DigiTruck in Tanzania was featured on US television program “Courage in Sports” which highlights powerful stories of courage, resilience and excellence in the face of adversity. The program was broadcast on CBS. The Courage in Sports segment can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GoOSjU0FKc4&feature=youtu.be/