Dell Technologies, in partnership with Utelize Mobile, SITA South Africa, Computer Aid International and Amandla Community Projects, has launched the Xitlhelani Village Solar Community Hub in Limpopo.

Solar Community Hubs are solar-powered internet centres that connect community members to the digital world. Built from two refurbished shipping containers, the hub will provide ICT skill-building opportunities for students and deliver technology and internet access for the broader local community.

Powered by a Dell PowerEdge server, the Xitlhelani Village Solar Community Hub will provide access to ten PCs and an additional 30 laptops such as Dell Rugged laptops which are built to withstand harsh conditions.

Strategically located close to Mahuntsi Secondary School, it is the second hub to be installed in the province. The first was introduced in November 2022 to support 12 000 residents in the nearby Roerfontein and Mamaila villages. To date, Dell Technologies has deployed Solar Community Hubs in 48 locations worldwide, reaching more than 921 000 people in remote and underrepresented communities. There are currently 13 hubs in South Africa alone.

In Limpopo, just 46,2% of residents have access to the Internet – the lowest rate in the country. This is compounded by South Africa’s high unemployment rate, particularly for job seekers between 15 and 24 years old. This rate was measured at 60,7% in 2023, the highest yet recorded, as reported by Statista. Youth employment is a priority for many local organizations and there are several local initiatives to accelerate youth employment.

To help broaden opportunities for the community, the facility will offer free access to technology resources and basic computer skills training for hundreds of students – including the opportunity to gain an ICDL certification by the end of their training year. Hub resources will allow students to learn how to create a résumé, complete university and scholarship applications, search for jobs and seek career guidance.

About 10 000 residents live in Xitlhelani Village and about 2,300 residents are expected to access the hub initially. In addition to students, the broader community can access technology, education and discounted internet access at the hub. Residents can also obtain data vouchers, purchase refurbished IT equipment at socially conscious prices, and access resources like the phone charging facility.

Natasha Reuben, head of transformation at Dell Technologies South Africa, says: “Digital tools and skills are critical to accessing essential services and jobs. The Solar Community Hubs in the communities of Xithelani and Mamaila in Limpopo are a great example of how impactful simple solutions can be when built with the needs of the community at the center. We look forward to seeing the benefits that come from these Hubs and we will continue to bring the solution to remote or disconnected communities around the world as we advance toward digital equity.”

Keith Sonnet, chief executive of Computer Aid, says: “Our vision at Computer Aid is to build a world where everyone has access to digital technologies and the opportunities they provide. We rely on the support of generous partners like Dell Technologies and Utelize Mobile to enable us to improve the lives of communities across the world by providing them with the technology they need.”

Richard Slade, head of partnerships at Utelize Mobile, comments: “In alignment with our commitment to help our customers to reduce their carbon footprint and free-up resources to tackle genuinely transformative projects, we are teaming up with Computer Aid, Dell Technologies and SITA South Africa to support the Solar Community Hub program to transform lives through impactful mobile device recycling through a simple innovative solution that is allowing companies to securely gift their old devices whilst making a real difference in the world by offering a unique support to the rural communities that needs it the most in South Africa. This is extremely rewarding to us as a company to know we are contributing towards a great cause in communities like Xithelani.”

According to Suren Naidoo, MD of SITA South Africa: “This project is about more than providing access to technology; it’s about planting seeds of opportunity and aspiration in a community where these were previously scarce. This initiative aims to unlock potential and inspire a future where technology is a bridge to endless possibilities. Our collaboration with Dell Technologies and Utelize Mobile ensures that the solar hub is a beacon of hope and a catalyst for change within the community. We are not just educating individuals, we are uplifting communities and paving the way for a brighter, more connected future for all.”