ICT Policy



City Profiles

South African desktop computer runs on Android, uses 20 watts of power

March 10, 2014  »  BusinessNo Comment

The World Design Capital (WDC) is a project organized by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design. For 2014, Cape Town in South Africa is the World Design Capital. As such, recognized WDC projects are ones that use design to bridge the historical divide between African communities. #WDC400 is one such project.

Capsule Technologies (Pty) Ltd based in Cape Town, South Africa is working on designing a new Android desktop computer that uses no more than 20 watts of power. This computer should answer the specific needs of Africa, namely, the lack of electrical infrastructure and a scarcity of community WiFi networks.


The 20W prototype. {}

Features that make the 20W computer tailored for the needs of the African ecosystem:

  • Max power requirement of 20 watts so it can be powered by solar panel
  • Built-in wireless MESH networking to create a community network between computers
  • Possibility to use recycled parts from e-waste for the common components (keyboard, hard-drive, monitor, etc.)
  • Powered by Android 4.x : the company is developing additional software layers for better desktop usage (printer drivers, scanner drivers, etc.)

A recap of features. {}

The hope is that the 20W computer can be applied to both rural and urban situations. Electricity is hard to come by in many cities, towns, and villages alike. In terms of concrete day-to-day application, 20W could open the door for VoIP on a 100% community network without any ISP or mobile subscription and with minimal cost of infrastructure. The 20W computer can do the same things that a standard laptop or a tablet can do – play, learn, read video, work – and is a powerful autonomous communication tool.

How to make #WDC400 a reality? The fundraising page for the project can be found on the crowdfunding platform Thundafund. Based on the same principles as Kickstarter, Thundafund is a 100% African solution where donations from anywhere in the world are possible. The project needs 70 000 Rands (roughly US$6,500) to purchase equipment for R&D and to pay office bills and local engineers. Once funds are raised, Capsule will be able to run a production batch of the 20W computer. Long term goals are to create local jobs in order to maintain and deploy the MESH infrastructure, computers, and software.

Other ways to support the project are to like the Facebook Page of the project, follow the project on Twitter @CapsuleSA, and use the hashtag #WDC400 to promote the project.

Comments are closed.