BBOXX, a next generation utility, is testing an internet service for communities in Rwanda in a move to expand its product portfolio as well as transform the lives of the developing world’s off-grid communities. This comes just days after Kenya’s M-KOPA launched Solapesa to extend credit facilities to its customers across the country.
According to Mansoor Hamayun, CEO and co-founder of BBOXX: “This latest internet pilot in Rwanda is a key step in delivering our vision to bring a whole range of much-needed utilities to off-grid communities across the developing world. This reinforces our position as a next generation utility.
“The disparity between internet access in the developed and developing world is unacceptable and a huge impediment to economic growth. Our vision for internet usage aligns with our vision for energy access, and they are inextricably linked, as stable data access requires a reliable electricity supply. We want to provide affordable data connectivity to communities left behind by the digital revolution, improving their quality of life.”
In Rwanda, BBOXX has created internet connections via Wi-Fi Hotspots in a joint venture with Axiom Networks. So far, 10 fixed hotspots, powered by BBOXX solar systems, have been installed for the pilot. This is the company’s first project aimed at delivering data access to provide valuable services available online such as educational programs, trading platforms for farmers and other similar services delivering long term economic development.
Availability is provided by the centralised Hotspots, which receive the internet through radio waves, allowing 10-20 Mbps even in remote areas. Data bundles, together with smartphone financing make access far more affordable for end customers. Local entrepreneurs manage the Hotspots and teach customers how to make the most of the internet, improving awareness among communities.
“For BBOXX, it will be a significant milestone in our wider strategy from being a provider of solar home systems to a multi-utility company, transforming the lives of underserved households in the developing world,” said Hamayun.
BBOXX says it has reached more than 750,000 people living in off-grid communities in Africa and Asia by providing clean, reliable and affordable solar electricity. This latest pilot signals how internet is the logical next step, with other utilities such as water and gas likely to follow suit. BBOXX is pioneering what it means to be a next generation utility on-the-ground in the developing world, with the aim of providing these vital utilities to underserved customers – that have never before been available as a reliable service.
At present, 75% of people across Africa cannot access the internet, which is a significant impediment to economic development. BBOXX’s pilot focuses on tackling the three major barriers to internet access: availability, affordability and awareness.