South Africa Produces First Solar-Powered Computer

Written by Dana Sanchez

A Cape Town technology company has developed what it claims is the first solar-powered desktop computer to run on Android, and the device may not be not pretty but it is durable, its maker said.

Capsule Technologies founder Megan Verkuil said the computer is not “aesthetically pleasing.” However it was built in response to Africa’s energy crisis and able to
withstand the dusty African terrain., according to BusinessDayLive.

“It is an African computer and is targeted at communities that don’t have power,” Verkuil said.

The computer has up to 4 gigabytes of random-access (RAM) memory, Wi-Fi capability and a 500-gigabyte hard drive. It retails for 3,300 rand ($312 US) and can be plugged into a solar panel.

Named the IMPI Mk1, the computer is considered highly energy-efficient and can operate on 20 watts, according to the report. This compares with other desktop computers that burn an average of 200-400 watts.

The solar-powered computer is recognized as a World Design Capital project.

The World Design Capital designation is awarded to cities that recognize design as a tool for social, cultural and economic development. Cape Town this year is hosting more than 460 design projects aimed at transforming the city.

The company chose to use Android as the operating system because “it is less intimidating since most young people in Africa are using Android-powered smartphones,” Verkuil said in the report.

The computer also uses open-source applications, meaning it is cheap to run.

A 5-month-old company, Capsule Technologies has 10 staff members focusing on research and development. The company hopes to expand into Africa, and is considering taking its product to other African countries.

Information and communications technology is a priority sector in the Western Cape, providing jobs for 30,000 people and contributing 3 billion rand ($283 million) to gross domestic product, according to the report.