Off-grid renewable energy and communications company Winch Energy and Mauritius headquartered internet service provider iWayAfrica on 11 June announced a partnership to launch the Winch Hub in Uganda. The project will use 20-foot-long containerised solar kiosks, called Winch Hubs, with an integrated very small aperture terminal (VSAT) – a satellite communications system – to provide energy services and broadband connectivity.
“Around 80% of Uganda is unserved by reliable means of electricity, with around 65% of the population remaining without access to the internet”, Winch director Tom Wrigley said. “Demand for these services amongst rural populations is significant and it is up to government and private sector stakeholders to ensure this demand is met in a rapid and affordable manner.”
Five communities in Bunjako Island, a fishing village on the shores of Lake Victoria, will be the first to receive the hubs. The area has a population of around 20,000 people. This will act as a pilot for a larger project using more than 250 of the hubs, which are designed and manufactured by Winch to provide electricity, Wi-Fi, water pumping, and cold storage. Households, schools, health centres, and businesses are expected to use the services. Winch tweeted on 30 May that the first hub had been installed.
Wrigley said that, “the objective of this pilot is to demonstrate the commercial and economic sustainability of the ‘multi-service in a box’ approach, which will help us execute our broader plan of rapidly scaling our technology deployment, alongside key public stakeholders. We are in discussions with local companies to manufacture and assemble our technology on Ugandan soil which will help boost the local economy, open up export opportunities, transfer key skills to local personnel and shorten the delivery time to customers”.
iWayAfrica managing director Michèle Scanlon said, “Operating as JOLAspot, the Ku-Band Wi-Fi access service will be available via several access points in the village with voucher purchases from the Winch Hub, that will also offer mobile phone charging and printing facilities”.
The Ugandan government aims to provide internet at a minimum speed of 3Mbps to the entire rural population by 2020.
Image ©Winch Energy
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