BRCK, a Nairobi-based hardware startup has launched Moja, it’s free public Wi-Fi in South Africa in an expansion move aimed at making it Africa’s largest public Wi-Fi provider.
BRCK COO Nivi Sharma, in an interview with TechMoran, said, ” South Africa is one of the most developed economies in Africa, so commercializing our network there was an easy decision. Other key success indicators for market entry that we consider for expansion include user demand, the structure of public transit system, availability of partners, and the ability to deploy services.”
Sharma told TechMoran further that it will be working with partners in the country but it’ll launch on its own. Currently, BRCK’s Moja has 2,700 WiFi hotspots in Kenya and Rwanda serving 7m sessions per month with close to 700k monthly active unique users on the platform.
Founded in Nairobi in 2013, BRCK started as rugged internet router for Kenya’s marginalized areas. The firm added an education arm dubbed BRCK Education with its Kio Kits. Later it launched its new version dubbed SupaBRCK targeted at rural areas. Moja Free Wifi runs on the SupaBRCK which is a newer version of the initial BRCK.
BRCK recently acquired Surf, its competitor in Kenya for market consolidation and also signed up a number of partners including SWVL to bring as many people as possible online. At the moment, the firm wants to grow its user numbers in Kenya as well as grow in South Africa before it makes another major expansion.
“We are focused on South Africa and growth in Kenya for now,” Sharma told TechMoran. “BRCK exists to get people online. We fundamentally believe that everyone should have the ability to take advantage of the global digital economy, and our job is to level the playing field for those who can’t pay for it.”
BRCK says it’s working towards making the internet accessible to everyone and providing the tools to take advantage of the digital economy. It’s platform Moja free public WiFi network gives anyone within range of the signal the ability to connect to the internet for free and access Moja’s stored content to watch shows, listen to music or read books.
“With Moja, users pay to get online with their time, attention or engagement rather than with money,” she said. “The Moja platform offers a way for organizations to capitalise on the benefits of the digital economy, reaching previously untapped audiences and measuring exactly how many people your message is reaching. Whether it’s a survey, an interactive ad, a video or a piece of micro-work, organizations can connect with potential customers.
For those asking why they should buy BRCK routers and not consumer routers in the market already, Nivi says they have that option because the Moja platform runs on several routers, in fact its fixed locations do not use SupaBRCK routers at all, but for the matatu industry, she says nothing has worked quite as well as the SupaBRCK.
“BRCK as a company makes its own hardware (the SupaBRCK), which serves our customers well for the places we have deployed it. If you want a home router, sure -there are cheaper solutions.”
According to her, about 20% of Moja’s downtime is due to power-related issues or vandalized cables on Matatus) so a battery is crucial for that unit to stay online while a field team track that matatu down and fix the cut cable before the device goes offline.
“We’re already inking deals with some great FMCG suppliers, banks, and insurance companies.”
Moja in South Africa will be onboarding content creators to help them monetize their content.