Power Play

[This week’s Communications column for the Vanuatu Independent.]

Now that we’ve got the beginnings of truly nationwide communications, we need to deal with power generation. We’ll never generate enough power to run a desktop computer in every house, and community computer centres are expensive and of limited usefulness, so we need to see how suitable things like the emerging class of micro-laptops (like Asus’ new Eee PC or OLPC’s XO laptop) are for use in the islands.

Smart phones and even plain old vanilla mobiles also have a critical role to play in rural access to communications. There are any number of very simple information services that can be deployed via text messaging.

But in order to do this, we need to power these devices. A mobile phone uses very little electricity, to be sure, but in a village with none at all, even a little is a lot.

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