SEATTLE, Washington — In June 2019, “there were 525 million internet users in Africa,” which is approximately 40 percent of the African population. However, the amount of users fluctuates from country to country. At least eight million people in Africa still lack internet access. BRCK is providing internet access in Africa to help fight poverty.
Internet in Africa
Only four out of 10 Africans have access to the internet. The Alliance for Affordable Internet “defines affordability as 1GB of broadband data costing no more than 2 percent of the average monthly income.” However, the cost of 1GB across Africa can be anywhere from 7.12 percent and in some areas to more than a fifth of average earnings. High prices are a serious barrier to keeping small African businesses from growing and stifling the economy. According to studies conducted by consulting firms, small businesses that have a presence on the internet grow twice as fast as those who do not.
Not only is internet access in Africa expensive, but its internet speeds are some of the slowest in the world. Cable.co.uk conducted a test on internet data speed in 39 African countries. None of them achieved average speeds above 10 megabytes per second, which was the speed declared to be the minimum required by consumers to fully participate in a digital society.
How BRCK is Helping
BRCK is a team of innovative individuals working toward removing barriers of connectivity that prevent Africa from striving economically. Based in Nairobi, Kenya, the team believes that the Kenyan community needs products that are meant to work in Africa where both electricity and internet connection issues are widespread.
BRCK’s main project, Moja, is a free public WiFi service that can be accessed by anyone in range. Instead of paying to use it, these are just some of the ways people “pay” for Moja. People can watch videos, take surveys or complete a piece of microwork. Moja also has free access to entertainment for the people: books, music and TV shows. It not only helps the people of Kenya get connected to the internet but it also makes life a little more enjoyable, by providing entertainment for free.
BRCK also provides schools with Kio Kits, a set of tablets made for the African education system to help improve children’s educations. The interface is specifically designed for teachers and students so it is easy to use and understand and has a light technology footprint. It holds enough battery to handle a noncontinuous power source and is strongly built to avoid breaking. The tablets are also locked to ensure children’s digital safety. These kits have positively impacted “thousands of children in more than 100 locations across 17 different countries.”
The products BRCK designs help get businesses online to advertise or collect data necessary to keep their company growing and thriving. This both helps individuals out of poverty and gives the economy the boost needed to build up communities in these countries. The number of people using the internet in Kenya was at 86 percent in June 2019, making Kenya the highest-ranked African country when it comes to internet speeds.
BRCK is the only company in East Africa with the technology and professionals available to provide what it does, and its work is making a difference. With BRCK working to provide widespread internet access in Africa, the continent will be able to increase its presence in the digital world.
– Jordan Miller