Links Solar Power to
Solar-Powered Community Center in Africa
Patriensah, Ghana: August 4, 2001: Greenstar and the village of Patriensah, Ghana are asking an unusual question: what's the connection between solar power, wireless communications and traditional music, artwork, poetry and dance?
The answer will be seen today in a ground-breaking model for self-replicating development, with an ambitious solar-powered cultural festival in a small, remote Ashanti village. The festival marks the launch of a community center, drawing photovoltaic power from the sun and connected wirelessly to the Internet.
Greenstar is working with the Ghana Computer Literacy and Distance Learning (GhaCLAD) and the Asante Akim Multipurpose Community Telecenter Committee to form a long-term business partnership, transforming a small community of 2000 people into a 21st century community in the middle of West Africa.
At 10:30 am. today, the first email message from Patriensah was received:
The Patriensah festival is being professionally recorded by sound and video crews from the local area, and the resulting music, dance and storytelling will be marketed worldwide; sales and licensing of these digital products will help to support the community center and its future expansion.
Artists from the region converge on Patriensah today to perform in the tradition of the Ashanti, one of the oldest and most significant cultures in Africa. The hereditary King of the Ashanti, His Majesty Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, who is heir to one of the oldest royal lineages in the world, will send representatives to the event; the result will be a treasure chest of images and sound, a living expression of Patriensah's priceless traditions that will be fashioned into a Cultural Ecology Gallery, available online worldwide.
Samples are available now on Greenstar's website, including free downloads of digital videos, photos, artwork and music:
Panafest, an organization which brings African-Americans to Africa to get in touch with their historic roots, is holding events in Ghana this week as well, and is sending participants to Patriensah.
In exchange for recording and licensing this rich resource, Greenstar is providing a community center designed to help Patriensah build an independent future, and a five year commitment to supporting and extending it. The center includes:
Greenstar is also helping to fund the completion of a new building to house the center, which was started by GhaCLAD and its local affiliate, the Asante Akim Center.
Greenstar has designated Hewlett-Packard as its preferred technology supplier worldwide, and has joined HP's global market development program, "e-Inclusion." The use in Africa of specially-designed "e-PC" and other key media products from Hewlett-Packard marks the initiation of this relationship.
"This is a giant leap into the new century, and the best way to address the digital divide in a serious, coordinated way," said Dr. Osei Darkwa, the director of GhaCLAD and a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Darkwa is a native son of Patriensah, who is managing this project for Greenstar and bringing the benefits of his education and experience in America back to Africa.
"This project emancipates the people of the district, so that they can see the promised land of bits, bytes, and ecommerce. The work of Greenstar and GhaCLAD in Ghana will bring the benefits of the information revolution to the people. We will become a team of friends and devoted collaborators, pooling our experiences, resources, and connections to serve Africa," Dr. Darkwa adds.
"We're very happy to be involved in a meaningful business partnership with the people of Patriensah," said Paul Swider, Greenstar's Africa representative working in Patriensah. "And we're expecting this, our first African investment, to lead to more here in Ghana and successful operations throughout Africa."
"We took a year to develop the relationship with the people and leaders of Patriensah," said Michael North, president of Greenstar. "With the foundations already laid by the local Asante Akim Telecenter, we realized that this community had the desire and energy to be a great partner. Greenstar is breaking the cycle of dependence on government, foreign assistance and donations that is widely seen in the developing world. With our 'digital culture' business model, we're making real investments in the developing world, in which true enterprise and individual incentive provide an engine for growth, fueled and sustained at the local level."
Greenstar has been making similar investments in "off-the-grid" traditional communities for the past three years, with solar-powered centers on the West Bank, Jamaica, and India. More investments will follow, with projects over the coming months in Brazil and Tibet.
Today's events begin at 9:30 am. In the new telecenter just outside the village of Patriensah, which is located about 30 miles southeast of Kumasi in south-central Ghana. Activities continue throughout the day and into the night.
Details on the participants in this innovative project can be found on the Web at the following sites:
Michael North, Los Angeles: 323-422-9602
e-mail: Darkwa@uic.edu or email@example.com
celphone in Ghana: 011-233-21 406525
Samuel Obeng Sarpong