Native American Access to Technology Program

As part of the Native American Access to Technology Program spearheaded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, SELF completed its first project in the United States in October 2001.

Situated in the sun-filled states of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah, the Navajo Nation is home to approximately 200,000 people. In the 1840’s members of the Kaibeto Chapter were displaced to the North Eastern corner of Coconino County, Arizona by the United States government. Despite its location in the heart of the world’s richest nation, much of the Navajo Reservation lacked paved roads, clean water, dependable electricity, and consistent telephone service. Over half of the Navajo people were living below the poverty line.

Without access to the internet, the population hadn’t been able to take advantage of its rich resources, tools, and information to pursue educational and economic opportunities. In an effort to bridge this gap, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation initiated the Native American Access to Technology Program, which offers grants to Native American tribes for computers, internet access, and other technologies.

The Gates Foundation selected Kaibeto as the site for a project focusing on bringing communications systems such as the internet and phone service to the community. At the start of the project, the Kaibeto community’s central meeting hall and chapter house lacked dependable electricity. The initiative was overwhelmed with assistance from OnSat Network Communications, a company dedicated to bringing satellite Internet to remote areas.

In order to power the satellite and computers, OnSat enlisted the support of SELF. By using solar panels, Kaibeto would be able to utilize the area’s abundance of sunshine to gain access to clean and affordable energy. SELF designed a system consisting of twelve 75-watt BP Solar mono-crystalline panels. The array provided enough electricity to power four computers, networking equipment, and the internet-connected satellite dish, among other technologies.

In order to ensure the longevity of the solar power system, Kaibeto residents were trained on how to troubleshoot and care for all components of the new solar PV system.

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SELF is a global leader in the fight against energy poverty. Since 1990, we’ve pioneered unique applications for solar energy, powering progress on food security, health care, education, gender equity, and more. 

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