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- Wikipedia Boxes to give free access to Ghanaian communities
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- It's a blessing to know that Wikipedia is no longer restricted to the online platform and can be accessed by people in even the most remote parts of the world. This has been made possible through the efforts of individuals and organizations committed to ensuring that access to information becomes free and as seamless as possible.
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From time immemorial knowledge has always proven to be a source of power. Knowledge not only in its rigid sense but its application, experimentation and multiplication has led to man’s transition from his primitive state of hunting and gathering to space missions exploring the frontiers of our galaxy and beyond. Across all fields of endeavor; agriculture, medicine,science,mathematics (just to mention a few); the insatiable thirst for knowledge has birthed tremendous changes in our world. The preservation and documentation of knowledge has also morphed from generation to generation. What was once passed on by word of mouth from parents to children, to writings in stone and on papyrus, transitioned to sheets and compounded into books which may now be accessed any and everywhere through the power of technology.
One major challenge however facing knowledge preservation has been its uneven dissemination. This has led to the death of rich cultures in various regions across the world. Exclusivity of knowledge has also contributed significantly to development of factions in our world which is considered a global village. One may not have to look far to find knowledge restricted for good and bad, or whatever reason justifiable by those doing so. But then, imagine a world where every child had access to so much information to grow, to build and make a difference. Learning about things that matter and have access to tools and resources to shape the next phase of man’s evolution. That's an ideal case, and sad to say in our imperfect world it is not so. Some of such tools include good education and the platform to collaborate and learn from others all over the world. The world is rich in diverse cultures and there’s even much more to be learned and documented. One of such notable platforms for growth and collaborations is Wikipedia; a free online encyclopedia that, by default, allows its users to edit any article.
It's a blessing to know that Wikipedia is no longer restricted to the online platform and can be accessed by people in even the most remote parts of the world. This has been made possible through the efforts of individuals and organizations committed to ensuring that access to information becomes free and as seamless as possible. One of such the Wikipedia box.
The Wikipedia box is an initiative developed through a partnership of Afrique Telecom, Eutelsat and Wikimedia France to provide “Accessibility to Wikipedia in Africa," a major action intended to make Wikipedia available free in Sub-Saharan Africa through a network of WiFi hotspots.
Solarkiosk in partnership with Coca Cola have established EKOCENTERS which serve as distribution points for the wikipedia boxes. The EKOCENTER which is a social project; an “off-the-grid,” modularly designed kiosk that serves a hub of community activity by providing a place of commerce as well as safe drinking water, solar power, wireless communication,education(among others) for people in rural areas which are typically characterized by lack of such facilities.
The Wikipedia box mainly consists of an embedded system ( mini computing unit i.e. Banana Pro) with a network interface and a 500GB hard drive connected to it. Basically the offline version of wikipedia is downloaded onto the embedded system and through its network interface, serves those connected to the EKOCENTER’s wireless network. Access To the main offline Wikipedia page is through the Afrique Telecom’s TAMTAM network interface. This collaboration is aimed at granting the populace free access to Wikipedia and some of its sister projects as they patronize the EKOCENTER. This is achieved through the Wikipedia box. This is to encourage the use of technology and information sharing, and is part of the strategy of the Wikimedia Foundation to promotes free access to educational content in the world particularly through Wikipedia. The Wikipedia content is updated regularly by a satellite link provided by Eutelsat. Eutelsat financed the Wikipedia servers on the first 1000 hotspots: a springboard for this project, which is also a pilot to measure the impact of this new service. This initiative is an avenue for both young and old, to learn and to share knowledge with the rest of the world, hence helping to bridge the gap in the academic, and collaborative divide plaguing these parts of the world.
All being said and done, this collaboration is great initiative and must be commended. Efforts such as these bring to bare the fact that there is still hope for us all, especially in areas where education and development seems like a luxury for many. There is still hope for the world still growing in its efforts to ensure development through education and knowledge sharing.
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