Computer Aid International and Geeks Without Frontiers have exceeded their target of deploying ten solar-powered connectivity centres in and around Ukraine to support refugees, thanks to the support of the N50 Project.
The N50 initiative is focused on the next 50 per cent of the planet that is not yet participating meaningfully in the digital world.
The Portable Connectivity Centres (PCCs) are converted shipping containers relying on a mix of grid energy and solar power, with most having access to generators in case of power outages. Filled with technology such as phones and Dell computers, the PCCs allow refugees to access the internet and vital information. This connectivity helps refugees to research as they determine their next steps, continue their education, and access essential services.
Six of the PCCs were deployed in Romania, with two in Poland and four in Ukraine. In one of the PCCs in Bucharest, around 200-250 people, many of whom are children, stop by each day to either use the WiFi or participate in one of the organised activities. Most of the users are under 18 years old, and the vast majority are Ukrainian. Among users who were surveyed, the majority said the centres felt comfortable, safe, and accessible and provided them with what they needed.
Additionally, the PCCs in Ukraine are providing vital services to local authorities in Dnipro, Lutsk and Lviv where government infrastructure has been overwhelmed by the amount of displaced people arriving from other war-affected regions. Much of the technology within the centres was donated by Dell Technologies, who generously gifted Computer Aid with 200 Rugged laptops, 30 Dell Chromebooks, ten 55-inch monitors, 200 charging docks, and power control units and cords.
Keith Sonnet, CEO of Computer Aid, expressed his gratitude for the donation from Dell Technologies and the support from American Tower Corporation, Cognizant, Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE), Exclusive Networks, Geeks Without Frontiers, Intel, Simplyhealth, Vodafone Foundation, WWT and World Vision.
He said: “We are proud to be part of the N50 Project and help in the Ukrainian refugee crisis. It was our duty to support those in need, especially when we could use our expertise to connect those who are marginalized. And we are grateful for Dell Technologies’ generous donation of technology to help provide connectivity to refugees of the Ukraine war. The additional support gifted by other N50 Partners has been invaluable in helping us exceed our original target and deploy 12 centres.
“This project has the potential to make a significant impact on the lives of those affected by the conflict in Ukraine, and we are honored to be able to play a part in providing access to vital information and resources.” Computer Aid’s broader mission is to bridge the digital divide and provide access to technology to those who need it most. With over 25 years of experience, Computer Aid has delivered technology solutions to over 100 countries, providing access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities to millions of people.
The deployment of these centres marks a significant milestone in Computer Aid’s mission to connect communities in need, and it is hoped that this project will serve as a model for future initiatives in other regions affected by conflict and displacement.