October 17th, 2014 | forumfoundati
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You need look no further than mobile phones to see how a small, portable technology can improve communication in remote places, beating the slow advance of large-scale infrastructure. Solar-powered devices are following a similar trend—bringing electricity and its benefits to people well beyond the grid’s reach.
While 94% of urban Panamanian’s enjoy access to reliable electricity, only 71% of Panama’s rural residents are able to rely on the electrical infrastructure, leaving roughly 400,000 people in the dark, according to the International Energy Agency’s 2012 World Outlook Report.
For example, most students attending school in Bajo Grande had never seen a computer before, much less taken a computer course. Forum Foundation was eager to help, but a lack of electricity on site presented serious challenges.
However, what the school lacked in reliable energy was made up for by a strong and active Parent-Teacher Association and a well-respected and effective school director. Forum Foundation, in conjunction with these actors and the Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá, worked to solve the energy issue by installing solar panels to support a computer lab in the school.
UTP worked tirelessly to design and execute the plans for the installation, while the community supported the project through fund-raising and volunteering. In 2011, it was completed.