In the South African towns of Bedford and Cookhouse, near the Nojoli wind farm, Enel Green Power has installed solar-powered technological hubs, allowing young people from local communities to access the internet and learn to use new digital technologies
It looks like a simple prefab, like the containers we see on lorries and ships around the world. It’s green and white, with the Enel Green Power logo on one side. From a distance, you might think it’s a tool shed or facility used by the personnel of the nearby Nojoli wind farm, in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province. But a group of kids, in their school uniforms, ringing the doorbell at the entrance is an intriguing clue.
Approaching the structure, walking along the dirt road between the village’s rundown houses, you can see it is something very different from a storage shed. The sign above the entrance removes all doubt: Solar Community IT Hub.
In the small villages of Bedford and Cookhouse, Enel Green Power has built two structures where kids from the local communities can access the internet, learn to use computers and get to know new digital technologies.
Innovation born from sharing
The idea to put IT Hubs in the two villages near our Nojoli wind farm came from speaking with the local populations.
While the plant was under construction, the Project Steering Committee noticed a lack of IT infrastructure in the area and, speaking with the residents, understood the need for technological education and internet access for the youngest members of the community.
“On 10 October 2016, we delivered the two Solar Community IT Hubs to the communities of Bedford and Cookhouse. Since that day, a door has been open to a new future for the young people of the villages.”
A little technological treasure
Each IT Hub is equipped with a solar energy system that makes it independent from the electrical grid. Thermal insulation and a ventilation system make the structure usable even in the hottest hours of the day.
Inside, there are eight computers, with Windows and Microsoft Office, a printer and projector for classes, a series of custom-made furniture to contain instrumentation and even an automatic distributor for phone charging.
“Full internet connectivity for each IT Hub is guaranteed by a 3G solution via satellite, perfect for the needs of remote locations like Bedford and Cookhouse.”
A new world of knowledge
For the young people of the two South African villages, the IT Hubs mean coming into a new digital world. Even small local businesses are benefiting from the hubs, thanks to computer classes held there.
In addition to providing the technological infrastructure and equipment, we also trained two locals, who now work as supervisors of the two IT Hubs and manage the daily activities there.
“These IT Hubs have opened up a new world of knowledge, especially for schoolchildren. Before this, they knew very little about computers, and now they are learning software programmes and how to use computers to study and complete projects for school.”
– Ntombuthando Nolokwe, IT Hub Supervisor in Bedford
Much more than just clean energy
Nojoli was our first wind farm to start production South Africa. The plant has a total installed capacity of 88 MW and is able to generate more than 275 GWh a year, equal to the annual consumption of about 86,000 South African households and avoiding the emission of over 251,000 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere annually.
“Our experience as a multinational company in renewable energy leads us to be much more than a mere supplier of clean energy. We are aware of the central importance of sustainability. This is why we are listening more and more to the needs of the communities where we work.”
– William Price, Country Manager of Enel Green Power South Africa
The two IT Hubs in Bedford and Cookhouse might seem like supplementary accessories to a wind farm project. But actually, they are an integral part: they represent our philosophy of working according to the model of Creating Shared Value, which is part of all of our business activities.