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Edinburgh PhD student, James Turing has been awarded close to $5,000 by the Clinton Foundation to support his work to bring computing to off-grid Kenyan communities.

James was among 18 international students to be awarded a grant from the new Clinton Global Initiative University Innovation Fund, which aims to source, support, and feature the most effective, high-impact student innovators and entrepreneurs from around the world.

Working within the CGI U Commitment to Action model, the Innovation Fund grants provide students with critical seed funding to help launch and scale their early-stage projects.

James is founder of the Turing Trust, which is named in honour of his great uncle and celebrated mathematician Alan Turing.

He is currently undertaking a PhD on the circular economy under the supervision of The University of Edinburgh’s School of Social and Political Science and the Business School.

He was awarded the grant for SolarBerry, a self-financing, community-owned, off-grid and solar-powered computer lab in a small primary school in Nyamira County, Kenya.

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James takes students through basic computing

Manufactured from a recycled shipping container, the lab will provide the entire community access to comprehensive ICT education opportunities and first-hand experience using Raspberry Pi computers.

Excess solar energy will be sold back to the community at a rate often many times cheaper than other locally-available electricity.

The project is part of the Turing Trust’s wider mission to plug the digital gap in rural African communities by reconditioning unwanted computers from businesses and households across the UK.

The Trust began as a volunteer project following a visit to Ghana in 2009, where James saw an opportunity to use Alan Turing’s legacy to encourage organisations to donate their old machines.

Seven years on, the social enterprise now processes more than 1,000 computers every year from premises donated by The University of Edinburgh at High School Yards.

To date it has installed more than 2,500 computers in rural schools across Ghana, Malawi and Kenya, and helped train more than 15,000 rural students in ICT skills.

Earlier this year, the Trust received £60,000 from the Scottish Government for a three-year project to install a further 4,000 computers in Malawi’s rural schools.

James Turing, Said:

James Turing “Even as African economies speed towards the information age, many in the countryside have no access to the knowledge and opportunities fostered by the digital world.

“I’m tremendously grateful to the Clinton Global Initiative University Innovation Fund for this grant, and humbled to be recognised among some truly transformative international projects.

“We’ve come a long way since 2009, but we still have so much more to do to bring the benefits of the digital age to those who need it most.”

Megan Strawther, CGI University Fellow, said:

“We strongly felt that James and the other 17 Awardees selected for the Innovation Fund demonstrated tremendous leadership potential in developing their exceptional Commitments to Action.

“We are confident that this inaugural cohort represents a remarkable group of young people who are committed to solving the world’s most pressing challenges.”


You can help The Turing Trust in its mission to create a world where everyone has equal access to computers by donating you or your company’s old computers, volunteering online, or even just during your regular shopping. Find out more on the website.