The Lokole

About Solution

While mobile Internet technology is improving lives of millions of the people in the world, with new and amazing applications in education, health and business being created every day, yet there is nearly half of the world population still cannot afford or access Internet to take advantage these opportunities. For instance the following countries: Burundi, Chad, Central Africa Republic, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau have less than 10 percent Internet users (https://www.internetworldstats...).

Not being connected on Internet in the 21st century, means missing a huge part of life's advancement opportunity.

 

We are Ascoderu

Our vision is to bring Email and Web applications to the world most remote places to give opportunity to these populations to access digital world to improve their health, education and social life.

This is how we do this:

We have created the Lokole. “This name, the Lokole comes from a traditional slit drum played by the people in different areas of the DRC Congo in Africa. It is used both as a musical instrument and as a log drum to send messages in the bush.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lokole)


What is the LOKOLE

It is an open source offline portable web and email network application which enables and empowers everyone who is impaired by the poor communication infrastructure anywhere in the world to access digitized applications in a sustainable and affordable way: - Students, educators, nurses, farmers, non-profit and civil society organizations in the remote villages will be able to access important materials and be able to send and receive emails with attachments right in the village, without walking several km’s to the main city to access Internet.

 

Generally, the access to efficient communication is very important for sustainable and development “beyond survival”, as highlighted by the UN SDG 9 and Kofi Anan: “The capacity to receive, download and share information through electronic networks, the freedom to communicate freely across national boundaries -- these must become realities for all people”.

The main problem solved by the Lokole is the high price of access to communication technology and mobile data.


The Lokole system aims to address this problem by tackling it from three perspectives:

  1. The Lokole is an email client that only uses bandwidth on a schedule. This reduces the cost of service as bandwidth can now be purchased when the cost is lowest. For example, in the DRC, $1 purchases only 65 MB of data during peak hours. At night, however, the same amount of money buys 1 GB of data.

 

  1. The Lokole uses an efficient data exchange format plus compression so that it uses minimal amounts of bandwidth, reducing the cost of service. All expensive operations (e.g. creating and sending of emails with headers, managing mailboxes, etc.) are performed on a server in a country where bandwidth is cheap.

 

  1. The Lokole only uses bandwidth in batches. This means that the cost of service can be spread over many people and higher savings from increased compression ratios can be achieved. For example, individually purchasing bandwidth for $1 to check emails is economically un-viable for most people in the DRC. However, the same $1 can buy enough bandwidth to provide email for hundreds of people via the Lokole. Spreading the cost in this way makes email access sustainable for local communities.

 

We use extremely cheap and yet general-purpose computer hardware for the Lokole device such as Raspberry Pi 3. This means that our total cost per unit is below 200 USD. The cost of these devices can be covered via crowd-funding or donations so that the units can be heavily subsidized when deployed in sub-Saharan communities. Note that a single device can be shared by an entire community, e.g. of 100 people, so that even in the absence of subsidies, the hardware is still affordable for most.

Secondly, the Lokole device, via our custom software, enables a community to share the costs of mobile data and to purchase mobile data when the prices are lowest. The issue of internet/email access in rural Africa is not technological but it’s socio-economical. This is where the Lokole project fits in: Lokole is a bottom-up solution, whose innovative nature relies on its technical simplicity and effectiveness. We didn’t reinvent the wheel, but we used existing technologies and services (Python, cellular modems, cloud storage, compression, batching, single-board computers) and adapted them to the real needs of rural people (expensive internet to access knowledge). There are no internet cafes or other ways for locals to leverage the presence of the internet in many cities in Sub-Saharan Africa!


The Lokole project has two main pieces:

(1) The Lokole device: hardware and software. This is a cheap single-board computer that is deployed in a rural community. The Lokole device provides email/app access in developing countries at a sustainable price by minimizing bandwidth utilization. The Lokole device creates a local WiFi network. When people access this network from their laptop or phone, they access the Lokole email and web applications where they can read and write emails.

(2) The Lokole cloud server: downloads the emails uploaded from the Lokole devices and manages the mailboxes associated with the users from the devices.

We plan to run a pilot project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, DRC by July 2019.

For more information, please visit our sites:

http://ascoderu.ca

https://github.com/ascoderu

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