NOTE: This was originally a Dimension Data initiative. Dimension Data rebranded as NTT DATA in 2024.


In 2018, the Department of Basic Education reported that 239 schools in South Africa had no access to electricity. Although that’s only a fraction of the more than 23,000 public schools in the country, we’re still talking about thousands of learners being affected. And in areas where homes also lack electricity, that’s a double blow to young people who are trying to get a head start in life.

Six years later and the country’s regular rolling blackouts, known locally as load-shedding, have been affecting learners everywhere. They often have to do their homework or study for exams in poor light, and they can’t charge their devices to access information online.

At NTT DATA, we believe that innovation in both education and technology is crucial to building a connected future that benefits people, communities and the planet. As part of our corporate social responsibility, we work with our partners to create digital solutions that tackle social and environmental issues across sectors.

To address the impact of the power problem on young learners, we’ve teamed up with Ked-Liphi, a small, Botswana-based technology enterprise specializing in innovative electronic engineering that was founded by Kedumetse Liphi, an award-winning young entrepreneur.

A backpack that has it all

One of their locally manufactured products is the Chedza solar backpack, made out of durable and waterproof canvas and incorporating a small solar panel – the perfect technology for a country that gets an average of 2,500 hours of sunshine every year.

Children in rural communities often walk long distances to and from school every day, which means there is ample time for the solar panel to charge.

The sun’s power flows into a charging mechanism and power bank that can charge small devices such as smartphones or tablets. The backpack also has a light-emitting diode (LED) lamp so learners can keep working – and the LED can even be used to provide the rest of their household with light.

Bringing light: watch our video to learn more about the solar backpacks

A great start through fundraising

To kick off our efforts to distribute the backpack, we asked NTT DATA employees to take part in a Mandela Day fundraiser in July 2023, where all the proceeds went to the backpack project. We also promoted our idea at SAPHILA, the biennial conference for African SAP users, to offer our clients an opportunity to help. These efforts raised ZAR 100,000 (USD 5,200).

Since then, we have raised a further ZAR 311,000 at the NTT DATA Pro-Am 2024 thanks to our clients and partners, as well as ZAR 33,100 at our annual NTT DATA sales kickoff with the help of our partners, executives and sales community – contributing another ZAR 344,100 overall.

The backpacks have been distributed to schools we identified in rural Gqeberha and KwaZulu-Natal, and to deserving schools in Johannesburg townships.

Even more exciting, we were recognized in the category of Corporate Social Responsibility in the SAP Partner Awards for Q3 2023 for the impact we're making in these communities amid the ongoing energy crisis in South Africa. As a strategic partner to SAP in Africa, and as a Global Partner via NTT DATA, we are extremely proud to be associated with SAP and their Corporate Social Responsibility program.

Meanwhile, Ked-Liphi, the maker of the backpacks, are also expanding their operations to South Africa, which will benefit local communities, and Kedumetse – the founder and CEO – represented Botswana at the 2023 African Youth Climate Assembly, which united young change-makers from more than 60 countries in Africa and beyond.

At the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December 2023, Ked-Liphi won an award in the category for climate-change mitigation and adaptation technology, among other accolades, and they are a finalist in the 2024 WIPO Global Awards.


Join us on the road ahead

International Energy Agency data shows that 600 million people in Africa lack access to electricity – most of them in sub-Saharan Africa. Initiatives and partnerships like these have the potential to change many more lives beyond the countries where they originate.

We will continue to support this initiative and raise more funds to provide light to as many schoolchildren as possible. Together, we’re driving change and creating opportunities for a brighter tomorrow.