UK charity ships Internet cafe in a box

UK charity Computer Aid International today unveiled a solar-powered Internet café in a box, designed to bring the web to remote villagers in Africa.

The box in question is a standard shipping container kitted out with a Pentium 4 PC and enough NComputing netbooks for ten users, all powered by a bank of solar panels on the roof. It's the second such unit the charity has produced, and was shown off in London today before being sent to its eventual destination in Kenya.

The first Internet container is soon to be installed in Zambia. Its destination is 70km from the nearest tarmac road, but is home to a malarial research unit that has a satellite Internet connection, which the mobile unit will share wirelessly.

The IT charity launched the project to celebrate its tenth birthday, and reaching the milestone of 100,000 refurbished PCs being shipped to countries in the developing world.

"The power of this idea is that we can drop that container anywhere in the world, literally in the middle of the Sahara desert," Tony Roberts, founder of Computer Aid, told UK tech site IT Pro.

Computer Aid's first two mobile Internet cafes cost £20,000 each, but the charity hopes to increase production, bringing the price to a more affordable £5,000 per unit.