Jhai PC: low-cost computer links villages to the web

From csmonitor.com: Jhai PC: Low-cost computer links villages to the Web.

In the small Hmong village of Phonsavad in Laos, three hours upriver from the nearest road, the Jhai PC is a portal to another world. Built to withstand monsoon rains and extreme temperatures and linked to the Web by satellite, the tough computer brings villagers weather reports, current prices for their rice crops and weavings, and contact with relatives living abroad.

It comes with a communications suite that both literate and illiterate villagers can use and will eventually host a videoconference kit for checkups with doctors. The computer costs about $200 and can charge its battery from a generator powered by pedaling a stationary bike.

All of this would seem to put it in the company of One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), the Intel Classmate, and other high-profile, low-cost PCs targeting the developing world.

But the Jhai PC is the product of a relatively small nonprofit in San Francisco, the Jhai Foundation, and a friendship between Jhai founder Lee Thorn and computer engineer Lee Felsenstein.

What sets their Jhai PC project apart – and has quietly garnered interest from 65 countries – is that it expects something in return: financial sustainability.

"There are tens of thousands of dead computers in rural villages all over the world," says Mr. Thorn. "The real problem of sustainability is how do people make money off this [technology] so they stay interested in it for a long time. Otherwise it’s just some white guy’s dream." [continue]

2 thoughts on “Jhai PC: low-cost computer links villages to the web

  1. Dear sir,

    I am much impressed by your article on Pc for the poor.
    I am doing my small part in Aceh, Indonesia as a volunteer for the development of the people especially in rural areas. Please refer me to some organisation who could give us more guidiance on the matter.


    francis lui

  2. Hello, Francis. I’m glad you liked the article, but I can’t take credit for writing it. It is from the Christian Science Monitor. I quoted part of the article, and linked to the rest of the article on the Christian Science Monitor website.

    The organization behind the Jai computer project is The Jai Foundation; perhaps you would like to contact them.

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