The first ever Solar-powered Internet Café in the entire country of Belize located in the remote village of San Benito Poite in the Toledo District was inaugurated on Friday August 7th 2009.
This unique community-based initiative was planned and developed through a collaborative effort involving the villagers of San Benito Poite, Dr. Ludwig Palacio – General Manager of the Toledo Development Corporation, and Mr. Mark Miller – Executive Director of Plenty Belize, and the GEF Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP). This solar-powered Internet Café is part of a project entitled Avoiding Greenhouse Gas Emissions through Capacity Building for Sustainable Operation and Management of a Solar Powered Information Technology Center in San Benito Poite for which a grant of BZ$94,995.00 was provided by the GEF SGP to Plenty Belize.
At a brief opening ceremony, Mr. Philip Balderamos, National Coordinator of GEF SGP, cut the ribbon and offered congratulatory remarks to Plenty Belize and the villagers of San Benito. Village representatives thanked GEF SGP for funding the project and Plenty Belize and supporting its implementation.
Grant funds have been used to set up a 1400 watt solar power system which operates computers, a printer, and a satellite internet system. Plenty Belize and Maya Mountain Research Farm conducted training on Solar Power installation and maintenance for 5 community members. Training for other community members in the use of computers and basic book-keeping was conducted by the Small Business Resource Center based in Punta Gorda Town.
The internet café will be used mainly by secondary school students and primary school students of San Benito Poite and is also available for use by other residents and visitors. This lab is capable of running 7 additional laptops, and donations are most welcomed!