OLPC and FabFi mesh networks bring Internet to Afghanistan

OLPC is working in 9 schools and 5 cities in Afghanistan. Many of the schools have some limited Internet connectivity at home, but most families still don’t have Internet (though they may get GPRS coverage if they have access to a cell phone) in their neighborhoods or home compounds.

In Jalalabad, this is changing in part thanks to a mesh network run by FabLab Jalalabad. Through their FabFi network, many children with XOs and their families have access to the Internet (and Wikipedia) for the first time. Fast Company wrote up a good story on this, following the New York Times’s lead last Sunday (commentary).

Similar FabLabs with mesh networks have sprung up elsewhere, most notably in Kenya. I hope to see them spread more widely in Africa and Asia – it seems like a robust and scalable model for engaging communities in maintaining their own networks.

Illinois Institute updates charger design for Haiti schools

The Illinois Institute of Technology is updating its design for solar chargers being used by OLPC schools in Haiti. Laura Hosman‘s students, working with Bruce Baikie of Green Wifi, are improving designs for charging setups for the off-grid primary schools in Haiti using XOs. Their work was featured recently in the Chicago Tribune.

They have been working on this project with Guy Serge Pompilus, the Haiti national project coordinator, since 2009 — and the focus on robust solar charging has increased greatly since the 2010 earthquakes.