Rural Peru Gets Connected

Monday, November 28, 2011

The connection was not of crisp video quality, but the chorus of schoolchildren from San José de Huamaní, near Ica in the south, could be heard loud and clear: “Good morning,” they chanted.

Hundreds of kilometres away, they were greeted with applause, through video link, by a brightly lit conference room full of Peruvian and European Union officials. They were meeting in Lima to announce the completion of an aid programme that is taking renewable energy and the internet to 130 rural communities in Peru.

With funding from the EU, the Euro-Solar programme is being rolled out across the eight poorest nations of Latin America, such as Peru, at a cost of €36m ($47.6m/£30.9m). The aim is to benefit more than 300,000 people whose communities are not connected to the electricity grid.

Via satellite linkup, the Lima audience heard live testimonies from four isolated villages about how they finally had electricity posts that powered a school and a convenience store, and they could now store vaccines, purify water, use computers and surf the web.

“There’s more interaction from the kids,” said Teresa Uribe, a teacher. She spoke from her classroom, surrounded by her pupils who were all hustling to get a view of the computer screen at their end. “They now want to learn more, thanks to this technology.” She was happy, too, about the improvements to her school environment.

Each community was given solar panels and, in some cases, a back-up wind generator to produce its own renewable and clean energy. With the free EU kit, it could now run five laptop computers, a printer-scanner, a multimedia projector, an antenna for satellite internet connection, a refrigerator, a water purifier and a battery charger. Simple things such as charging a mobile phone or emailing medical lab tests to a central hospital could now be done.

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