PolkaSpots Limited a small Wi-Fi Hotspot company based in West London, has just succeeded in helping LinkNet, a rural African Co-operative Internet Service Provider in Africa to bring the Internet to two remote villages in their rural region. Until now, these communities, whose daily lives have remained unchanged for centuries had never experienced any of the advantages of the Net that the West take for granted. They also lacked the basic support services which enable life to run smoothly - telephone lines, libraries, newspapers and roads in good condition. By contrast to Europe where 1 in 2 people have access to the Internet, in Sub-Saharan Africa only 1 in 250-400 people do.
By providing a sophisticated billing system PolkaSpots has enabled LinkNet to realise their dream of rolling out telecommunications, technical support and training throughout the villages of Macha and Mukinge and bringing the 21st century to villagers.
With the introduction of the Internet, the potential for changing people’s lives in that part of the world is enormous – the quality of education can be extended to more students and communication between parents and pupils while at boarding school has been revolutionised. It will also prevent needless journeys being made by teachers to collect salaries, not yet in the bank, from the nearest town 70km away and allow Chiefs to make better use of their time by assisting local people, as they can now e-mail communication between villages rather than make lengthy visits to them. The following two stories illustrate just how far-reaching these changes already are.
A local farmer, Fred Mweetwa, using the Internet independently has learned how to grow sunflower seeds which are used to make sunflower oil and he now has a flourishing business of 10 employees. In one season alone, his yield was 70 bags of 50 kilos each.
Photograph taken in Zambia by Konstantine Kein - see his site here.
Every week, 8-year-old Merel van Stam sits in front of her computer and Yamaha keyboard and waits for her music teacher’s instructions. More than 8,000 miles away in Lakeville, Minnesota Kristin Shoemaker boots up her computer and webcam and plugs in her Yamaha keyboard. Ms. Shoemaker will teach Merel how to play basic piano chords and scales with the same clarity as if she were in her living room using video services such as YouTube to upload daily lessons, this then allows them to play piano together.
With continued funding, LinkNet and PolkaSpots aim to continue rolling out this technology across the region in order to benefit as many as possible.
Closer to home, PolkaSpots is working to broaden access to the Net across the UK and Europe. Alongside their successful pre-paid service, they have just launched a new low cost, fully managed, free WiFi package designed for small businesses.
Started in 2005, PolkaSpots Limited is a small, privately owned Wireless Internet Service Provider based in West London. They provide businesses in the UK with fully managed Wi-Fi Hotspot solutions allowing customers to get online wirelessly at a very low cost. They also provide third party companies around Europe and rural Africa with a fully-hosted, white label billing and authentication system that enables them to roll out their own Hotspot Network with low capital outlay.