Samsung is playing its part in helping poorer communities access healthcare and education; on Tuesday 1 April the company handed over its first solar-powered village to the Malibongwe Ridge community.
Samsung’s flagship village also provides internet access, helping to bridge the digital divide that disadvantages underdeveloped communities.
“The United Nations says being online is now seen as fundamental to human development, and access to the internet may soon become a basic human right, like access to water,” says George Ferreira, vice-president and chief operations officer at Samsung Electronics Africa.
“Our challenge was to look at what was needed versus what was available and devise a plan that connected the two.”
On average, more than 25% of Africans don’t have ready access to electricity in their homes; this limits connectivity and access to education and healthcare, which are central to the success of isolated rural and peri-urban communities.
The solar-powered digital village will provide access to these necessary services.
HEALTH, EDUCATION AND INTERNET ACCESS
Built in a refurbished 12 metre- long shipping container, the village’s mobile classroom is designed for use in remote areas and is easily transportable.
The classroom is fitted with Samsung notebooks and netbooks, an interactive whiteboard or
e-board, and Samsung Galaxy tablets; all powered by solar panels attached to the roof.
The village’s solar-powered healthcare centre provides basic services such as eye, ear, blood and dental screening, mother and child healthcare, and treatments on site.
The healthcare container is mobile, taking its services to surrounding communities to eliminate travel expenses for residents already struggling to make ends meet. The centre also disseminates information on basic preventative healthcare.
Samsung has partnered with non-profit Right to Care, which delivers prevention, care and treatment services; the organisation will encourage male circumcision as a preventative healthcare measure.
Right to Care’s Dr Mashudu Munyai said, “We are excited to work with Samsung on this uplifting and inspiring project.”
The healthcare centre also has a Tele-Medical Centre; telemedicine relies on modern communication technologies to provide healthcare workers in far-flung areas with access to updated diagnostic methods and medical processes.
The Tele-Medical Centre will work in conjunction with Samsung’s Tele-Medical app, which will guide nurses on site through the necessary processes to ensure all relevant information is captured and that diagnoses are accurate.
“Today, we are seeing an innovation we’ve worked hard on developing come to life, and it is very exciting,” says Ferreira. “Good health is at the centre of one’s wellbeing and impacts society at a fundamental level.
“It affects a child’s ability to learn at full potential, and adults’ ability to provide for their families. This is why we have complemented our strong focus on education with a focus on quality healthcare.”
RENEWABLE AND CLEAN SOLAR ENEGRY
When the village’s solar panels are under pressure, there is a standby solar-powered generator to provide additional electricity. The generators can also provide affordable and eco-friendly power to schools, homes and community centres.
The digital village is a project in line with Samsung’s commitment to researching and investing in green technologies. It is also in line with a Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Gauteng Department of Economic Development (DED).
“We are encouraged by the work Samsung is doing in the green technology space,” says Albert Chanee, head of the DED.
“This type of out-of-the-box thinking is what will make a measurable and meaningful difference in people’s lives and, ultimately, change the world. The digital village aligns with government’s vision of finding alternative solutions to African problems, and we are proud to be a part of it.”