No Internet? No Problem: These Solar-Panel-Wearing Donkeys Are Bringing Web Access to the Countryside
It wasn’t long ago that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan “vowed to eradicate” Twitter. Citizens successfully fought his attempt at censorship, and the demand for Web access remains high—even among Turkey’s sheepherders, who are strapping solar panels to their donkeys to go online in the remote countryside.
Solar panel company Ser-Gün teamed up with a local sheepherding association to produce the Plug-and-Play Solar Pack. The panels it contains can generate as much as seven kilowatts of electricity, which can power and tether (to connect a mobile phone to a device for Internet access) cell phones and laptops. Herders can also use them to power extra lights that come in handy during their long journeys.
“The shepherds have a difficult time,” alternative energy analyst Özgür Gürbüz told Fast Company. “They live far away from the cities and towns and the only way for them to socialize is to watch TV or use computers. Solar power serves both purposes.”
Each solar panel pack costs roughly $1,300. Government funds cover half the cost.
“We aim to better the daily comfort of the producer in the countryside, providing sustainability for sheepherding,” Tamer Uğurluel, Ser-Gün’s chairman, told the Cihan news agency.
Experts say that such an initiative will let folks in the countryside access information other than news coming from pro-government media outlets, Fast Company reports.
“My first reaction was that at least in some respects the ‘digital divide’ idea was collapsing,” Erkan Saka of Bilgi University in Turkey told the site. “At least in terms of connecting the web, all citizens in Turkey are finding ways to connect.”