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  • Writer's pictureGeeks Without Frontiers

Transforming Rural & Marginalized Communities Through Digital Innovation

N50 Project’s White Paper- “Digital Adoption: A model for capacity and sustainability in digitally marginalized communities” - promotes equitable investment.

WASHINGTON D.C., USA, June 27, 2022 -- Rural communities face a number of challenges in order to access and use reliable digital communication networks. Aside from the widely-recognized obstacles of last-mile connectivity, especially in remote areas, the primary reasons for low uptake are affordability and lack of relevant content, skills and digital literacy.

The N50 Project is focused on the next 50% of the population who do not fully benefit from digital participation. N50 has launched a proof of concept 'Digital Participation' pilot project in a remote community of 2,000 residents in Luumbo, Zambia. The N50 initiative is led by the non-profit organization Geeks Without Frontiers.

This innovative project was designed to accelerate connectivity and digital transformation utilizing low-cost edge architecture and efficient hardware, software, and applications solutions. The rates of unemployment and illiteracy in Luumbo are higher than average, with livestock farming as one of the main sources of income. The N50 team conducted interviews and surveys to establish the digital inclusion and network requirements and create impact measurement ‘Key Performance Indicators’ (KPIs) to ensure that the primary interests of the Luumbo community are fulfilled.

N50 partners, including world leaders in technology, collaborated to bring mobile broadband access to Luumbo using an innovative edge network solution designed to reduce the cost and increase the efficiency of delivering relevant e-learning, telemedicine, agricultural, financial and business content to low-cost smartphones, tablets and laptops over an LTE network.

The primary goals for the Luumbo project include:

- CREATE AFFORDABLE, SUSTAINABLE SERVICES – The project is focused on developing a flexible approach that spans network-as-a-service business models, scalable digital platforms, the use of cached data and delivery networks and latency/efficiency driven architectures adapted to local needs. The expansion of existing mobile networks and the prioritization of fiber and low latency satellite, as well as Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) broadband connectivity, are a few examples of how the telecommunications infrastructure can address some of the challenges related to sparse population densities and remote locations.

- PROVIDE MEANINGFUL CONNECTIVITY - The key to the success of building solutions that have enduring value is adaptable hardware and software integration, along with rapid deployment. Measuring and improving broadband internet connectivity criteria such as speed, quality, availability and device capability can also help to ensure content delivery and support best-practice sharing across multiple parties.

- ENCOURAGE COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION - Working with community leaders to identify needs and priorities and plan and execute the roll-out of projects is essential to empowering individuals to participate and contribute towards achieving the desired outcomes. Skills can be transferred through the training and support of community leaders, teachers and clinicians, as well as through the delivery of educational content to families and businesses. Offering the opportunity to earn ownership of the hardware over the lifetime of the project encourages meaningful engagement.

“The Luumbo project is helping N50 Partners to identify unique community needs and priorities that can inform the design of an open ecosystem that harnesses the most effective architectures and technologies available to develop affordable and sustainable infrastructure, services, and content with a view to community enrichment. The success of this project in Luumbo and future N50 projects will allow architecture blueprints to be developed, replicated and shared across digitally-disadvantaged communities around the world” said David Hartshorn, CEO of Geeks Without Frontiers and N50 Board of Advisors member.

For more information and additional context, please see the White Paper, “Digital Adoption: A model for capacity and sustainability in digitally marginalized communities”, provides insights into creating solutions that have enduring value for rural communities by empowering them to participate in the digital world.

The full publication is available on the N50 Project website: link here

About N50 Project

The N50 Project is the Geeks Without Frontiers led initiative that is focused on the next 50% of the planet that does not fully digitally participate. The N50 partners' primary focus is to launch projects for marginalized communities using best-practice playbooks for long-term delivery of ICT solutions. N50 is an open, inclusive ecosystem that is fueling transformation in some of the world's most challenging environments. Our live 'Digital Participation' projects in the field are designed to enable communities to access the education, health, social and financial benefits that flow from affordable and sustainable digital inclusion. To learn more about the N50 Project, visit:

About Geeks Without Frontiers

Geeks Without Frontiers (Geeks) is a platform for global impact. An award-winning non-profit, Geeks’ mission is to promote technology for a resilient world including bringing the benefits of broadband connectivity -health, education, poverty reduction, gender equality and the other UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). To learn more about the Geeks, visit:

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