ExpLAN and field trials of the Solo
In 2002 Pamela organised a field trip for Paul Richardson of Explan. They spent the first week in Abuja meeting with politicians, thanks to Senator Diffa of Bayelsa State.
Chief Adejumo also joined them in Abuja. He then guided their trip in Oyo State, in South West Nigeria, where Paul conducted field trials, in extreme conditions, and demonstrated the system to various groups of health workers, teachers, local government officials and others.
During demonstrations in Ago-Are Mr Timothy Oyawale was able to exchange an email with Agnita Oyawale in London. When Pamela returned to Ago-Are with David Mutua, later in 2002, she brought a laptop for him to use in his work with Oke-Ogun Community Development Network. Several people who saw the laptop had only seen a Solo previously, and had assumed that the Solo's features were standard to all computers. They were surprised to discover that, unlike the Solo, the laptop did not run on solar energy, did not have a touch screen and was not able to send and receive emails via the satellite that continued to pass overhead.
Paul’s wider vision was to enable local assembly of the Solo computer, on a "cottage industry basis" and use that as a jumping off point for all kinds of technology transfer and local business development.
Pamela introduced him to John Dada for that stage of the project. Paul visited Fantsuam Foundation and trained a group pf potential workers and a local company was set up. At that point the Solo was still at its second or third prototype stage. Although it was proving popular with people who saw it demonstrated, it still needed some additional work to finalise the production model, so the team were not able to move straight into production after their training.
The Solo, was a computer ahead of its time, developed by a small group of enthusiasts. Subsequently big players have come into this market with other low power computers and so the dream of the Solo approach to technology transfer has not come to fruition. It was a remarkable project which came very close to succeeding, and would have filled a real need.