Connecting to the Internet is slower and more expensive in Africa than anywhere else. Travel out of any major city, and access is all but impossible. One company, based in Nairobi, Kenya has changed that by developing a portable modem that uses phone SIM cards to beam wifi connectivity to multiple devices. The BRCK, which is actually smaller, lighter and more robust than its namesake, was designed in 2013 with developing world conditions in mind: it’s weatherproof, shockproof and battery powered.
Five years on and the company now offers a SupaBRCK that can provide internet at 3G speeds to up to 100 devices at a time. With a dual core processor and five-terabyte hard drive, it also works as a mini-server, streaming cached content such as text books and instructional videos to users without relying on expensive data connections. But co-founder Erik Hersmann has even greater things in mind: last year he launched Moja, a public wifi system that uses the SupaBRCK hardware to provide free internet access across Kenya and Rwanda. Some 250,000 users a month can now go online at no cost, once they sign in and watch an ad. His next goal? The rest of the continent. —Aryn Baker