ICT centers delivered to the field in South Africa
In July 2015, NDIGD and the Accenture Foundation announced the expansion of the Connectivity, Electricity, and Education for Entrepreneurship Project. The Accenture Foundation donated $1.6 million in both cash and pro bono services to make this development possible. Part of the project involves the installation of information and communications technology (ICT) labs in locations that do not currently have a reliable source of energy or internet connectivity. The ICT labs will help to power small entrepreneurial ventures such as mobile phone charging stations and print services, as well as provide a location for computer and entrepreneurship training.
Over the past several months, NDIGD and local staff have traveled to potential field sites throughout South Africa to determine the best locations to build the ICT labs. Factors such as the population, community interest, and the possibility of partnerships in the area were all considered in order to determine the most fitting locations possible.
Mansomini and Ndumo were both selected as fitting locations for the ICT labs. In early October, construction began. The labs were mainly assembled off-site using recycled cargo containers. It took only hours to connect the mobile lab once it was placed on-site in its respective community. Once the lab was delivered, it was up and running in minimal time. Most importantly, the roofs of the labs contain solar panels, allowing for the labs to be self-sustaining.
Shortly following the installation process, the ICT lab filled with students ready to utilize dependable Internet connection and receive entrepreneurial training. Following the installation in Ndumo and Mansomini, local community members gathered for a celebration of the launch. The expansion of the CE3 project provides many opportunities for communities in rural South Africa, and it is exciting to witness the impact on these entrepreneurs. University of Notre Dame researchers will monitor use and evaluate the impact of these and similar labs and training in Uganda to inform future economic and human development program designs.