zambia map with flag colours

June 2019

The aim of the activity was to gain information on the impact of our project. We focused on 14 schools in Siavonga District which have received solar panels as well as RACHEL learning resources on a Raspberry Pi. These schools have 4750 pupils (2456 boys and 2284 girls).
This visit strengthened GiaKonda’s understanding of our impact, and improved the sustainability of our activities. The District Education Board Secretary has given her blessing to the Digital Literacy Forum and provided a location for it.
Through school visits, GiaKonda were able to

  • Gain understanding of what Zambian stakeholders felt were the most significant impacts of the equipment installed and training delivered by us
  • Identify and report on levels of use, maintenance and care of the equipment installed
  • Accurately understand the levels of digital literacy within schools and what impact GiaKonda’s work has had on skills
  • Provide an opportunity to stakeholders to share challenges and be heard.

Teacher from Bbakila

Read our report here

February 2019

The main purpose of this visit was to install solar power in three remote rural schools- Dibbwi, Nashongo and Manchamvwa Inland.

 solar system

There were serious issues with access so we called staff from the three schools together at Kawila school to demonstrate the set up and show how all the equipment worked. The schools were able to assist each other as a cluster to complete the solar installations.



Looking inside a PC

We also held 6 training sessions on a variety of topics. One day was concerned with explaining how to refurbish an old PC or laptop. We have donated a large number of PCS thanks to the help of Operation Sunshine in shipping them for us. We demonstrated how to add a new hard drive and install an operating system.



Visit to Monze June 2018
We visited Monze District to install solar power at two schools on behalf of Friends of Monze.

Kampunu School

This rural school was built by Friends of Monze. It is a standard design school consisting of 3 classrooms and a head teacher office. It has no mains power. Our purpose was to install two 320W solar Panels and two 220Amh Batteries to provide power.

We expected to be using the vehicle belonging to the Ministry of Education – a Land Cruiser that can cope well off-road. Due to a mix-up we had no land cruiser. A local boarding school stepped in to provide a lorry!

panels on lorryHoward and local barber

Members of the local community helped get the panels on the roof and connected to the batteries. They mounted the solar controller, fuse box and battery gauge neatly on a piece of wood. The solar set up was complete.

The school can use solar power to charge laptops, run a projector and have LED lighting. We also installed a Raspberry Pi computer which acts as a wireless hotspot and delivers an off-line learning resource called RACHEL (Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning). This resource contains a vast amount of learning materials to help teachers research unfamiliar subjects, prepare lessons and present them via the projector. It can be accessed via any wireless enabled device.

Some women from the PTA spent a lot of time looking at health guides and at African storybooks.

An enterprising local barber turned up with his clippers and gave Howard a haircut! He had immediately seen the potential of solar power.

Mwiinga Malimvwa

setting up panels

Friends of Monze have just completed the building of a 3 classroom school and teacher’s house in the very remote village of Mwiinga Malimvwa.

Villagers made the bricks and provided the labour. Nine young people were trained as apprentice bricklayers on the project. All completed the qualification including three young women.

Up on to the roof

Giakonda Solar Schools installed two solar panels to provide power for LED lighting, laptops and a projector. We also set up RACHEL on a Raspberry Pi so that the school has a large learning resource.



Visit to Siavonga March 2018
Between 27th February and 17th March, we installed solar power at three schools in Siavonga District; Syakalinda, Manchamvwa Lakeshore Primary School and Munyama Primary School. Each installation consisted of two 320W solar panels, two 220Amh batteries, the necessary cables and connectors, a fuse box and fuses, a solar controller and battery gauge. This powers laptops, LED strip lights, a router and the Raspberry Pi computer. The Raspberry PI computer is a wireless hotspot from which laptops, tablets or smart phones can access the offline learning resources of RACHEL.

We held three teacher training days at Siavonga High School (on Solar Installation, Code club and Programming and Networking and Network Maintenance) and two training sessions with SHS pupils where they learnt about Scratch and Python Programming. We also held training sessions in Monze and Chilanga Districts. Read More here.

Visit to Siavonga Autumn 2017
We’ve just returned from another successful visit to Siavonga, Southern District, Zambia where we have been working for three years providing solar power and computer resources to rural schools.
This time we were a party of seven; Howard and Wendy Kirkman of Giakonda Solar Schools, Sian Penticost, primary school teacher; Luke Brereton IT student; Jason Brown, software engineer; Adele Stuart linguist and teacher of English as a second language(TESL) and Malcolm Boorer, videographer.

We had set ourselves various tasks, chief of which was that of providing solar power to Kawila School. We are very grateful to The Waterloo Foundation whose funding grant made this possible.

community helping at Kawila Primary School Siavongaup on the roof at Kawila Primary School Siavongakawila siavonga

We installed two solar panels and two deepcycle batteries with the necessary fusebox and controller.
With help from staff and enthusiastic community members, this was achieved in a day. The school now has four laptops, LED lighting, a projector, and access to offline learning resources.

Our videographer, Malcolm Boorer captured the events on film which you can see here.

We ran a series of training courses for teachers and system administrators, all of which were well attended and well received. They included very practical sessions to enable people to get to grips with the hardware and software supplied.

networking course Siavongasynology trainingexcel training Siavonga

We installed Synology DiskStation servers in three large schools. Networked computers can access RACHEL offline learning resource and staff can set up users to access and store information securely.

kariba school siavongakariba school siavongachilanga school

We visited a series of schools to troubleshoot  any small issues that had arisen in the past few months.

Download a copy of our report by clicking below
general report sep 2017

2017 visit
Director of SolarPlants handing over panelsIn Autumn 2016 we sent off 8 solar panels which were kindly donated by SolarPlants of Baglan Bay, Swansea .

In February / March 2017 we spent three busy weeks in Zambia, during which time we installed solar power in four schools (Game, Katalumba, Namumu and Sianyoolo), thanks to the donation of the panels and a grant from Hub Cymru Africa.

locals setting up battery for solar powerSchool staff and members of the local community all helped
install the panels under Howard’s watchful eye.

The system should need little maintenance if used properly.

We delivered five teacher training days to help improve Synology DiskStation at Siavonga High Schoolstaff competence and confidence with IT.
In three schools which already have power we upgraded their computer networks. We set up two of them to share RACHEL learning resource via two DiskStation NAS servers kindly donated by Synology UK

Download a detailed report here

2016 visit
kabila-new-guyconnorIn February 2016 we sent our technician Connor to Zambia to work alongside Bridget to extend her IT skills so that she can better support the schools in Siavonga when we are not there. Unfortunately we have not yet managed to get her a visa to travel here for further training. He was able to carry on setting up more hubs of Raspberry Pi computers and dealing with more difficult technical issues. Thanks to Hub Cymru Africa ( for sponsorship. Find out more about Connor’s trip from BBC Wales.

Head teacher of Dambilo sets up solar panels donated by S&C ElectricSummer 2016 brought us another grant from S & C Electric Europe.
With the money we bought solar panels, battery and all the necessary equipment to provide solar power to an additional school, Dambilo. Thanks to having helped Howard set up panels at another school, Philemon Chikoondo, the head teacher,was able to set up the equipment himself.



How it all started
In autumn 2014, Swansea Siavonga Partnership (Part of Swansea University Discovery Student volunteering project) approached us to build a website for them. During conversations about their work, we were asked if we would travel with them to Siavonga, Zambia to set up computers. When we agreed, they dropped the bombshell – some of the schools had no mains power!
This led us to develop a solution using solar power and Raspberry Pi computers. These have the functionality of a PC but are small, inexpensive and run on 5V. As well as using them for office applications and to teach programming, we added an offline learning resource called RACHEL. This stands for Rural Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning. It provides an immense amount of information particularly useful for rural schools and the wider community they serve.

raspberry Pi2015 visits

On that first visit to Zambia in January 2015, we set up ten Raspberry Pi computers in Siavonga, Zambia, four of them in two schools which had no electricity. To achieve that we used deep cycle lorry batteries and solar panels which we purchased in Lusaka with a grant from S & C Electric Europe. Donations from family, friends and supporters helped us buy additional equipment such as connectors, cables and tools. Read the report of our January 2015 Project here.
In July 2015 we spent another month in Zambia consolidating the work and extending the project. Our focus was on making the project sustainable by training teachers and an IT technician (Bridget Muyuni).This time our sponsors were University of Wales Trinity St Davids
Read our July 2015 report here.