In today’s digital age, access to the internet is a fundamental requirement for economic development and social progress. Yet, many people in Africa lack internet connectivity, thereby hindering the region’s ability to create jobs, reduce poverty, and promote economic growth. According to a World bank’s report, more than half of Africa’s population is without internet access, making it the least connected continent in the world. The report states that only 28% of people in Sub-Saharan Africa have access to mobile internet, compared to 82% in Europe and North America. This digital divide has far-reaching consequences for economic growth, education, and healthcare.
Despite these challenges, a number of African startups are working to expand internet access across the continent. These companies are developing innovative solutions to bridge the digital divide and create a more connected and prosperous Africa. From rugged, reliable hardware, to hybrid networks and online job placement services, these startups are paving the way for a more inclusive and equitable digital future. Through their innovative solutions, they play a critical role in creating a more connected Africa. Here are five African startups leveraging technology to overcome infrastructure challenges, improve connectivity, and expand internet access across the continent.
Based in Kenya, BRCK is a hardware and software company that provides rugged, reliable, and affordable internet access to areas with limited connectivity. The company’s flagship product is the BRCK modem, a rugged device that can withstand harsh environments and provide connectivity even in remote areas. The modem can connect to multiple networks, including Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and cellular, and can switch between them to ensure a stable and reliable connection. The company also offers the Moja platform, which provides free Wi-Fi hotspots in public spaces, enabling communities to access the internet for free. BRCK partners with local organizations and governments to deploy its products in underserved areas. By working with these stakeholders, BRCK can identify areas that lack connectivity and tailor its solutions to meet their specific needs.
Tizeti is a Nigerian startup that provides affordable and reliable high-speed internet to homes and businesses. The company uses solar-powered base stations and a unique network architecture to offer unlimited data plans at an affordable price. Tizeti’s solar-powered base stations enable the company to provide connectivity to areas that lack reliable electricity. By using renewable energy, Tizeti can expand its coverage to rural areas without relying on traditional infrastructure. The company’s unlimited data plans are affordable and accessible, making them an attractive option for people who may not have access to traditional broadband services.
Wazi is a Tanzanian startup that aims to connect rural communities to the internet using a hybrid network of satellite and terrestrial connections. The company’s solution is designed to be scalable, affordable, and easy to deploy, making it an ideal solution for underserved communities. Wazi’s hybrid network of satellite and terrestrial connections enables the company to provide connectivity to areas that lack traditional infrastructure. The company is partnering with local organizations and governments to deploy its solutions in underserved areas. By working with these stakeholders, Wazi can identify areas that need connectivity the most and tailor its solutions to meet their specific needs.
BeneFactors Ltd is a Rwandan-based startup that provides innovative financing solutions to businesses to increase access to high-speed internet services in Rwanda. The company’s platform enables businesses to access flexible and affordable financing options to upgrade their internet infrastructure, purchase new devices, and access connectivity services from reputable internet service providers. By providing access to financing, BeneFactors Ltd is bridging the financing gap for businesses and enabling them to access high-speed internet services to improve their operations, increase productivity, and enhance their digital capabilities.
While not a traditional internet connectivity provider, Zipline is a Rwandan startup that uses drones to deliver medical supplies to remote communities. The company’s drones rely on a sophisticated network of sensors and satellite connections to ensure reliable and fast delivery, even in challenging environments. In addition, these drones enable medical supplies to be delivered quickly and efficiently, demonstrating the potential of technology to improve access to essential services in remote areas. Although Zipline is not a traditional internet connectivity provider, its use of satellite connections highlights the importance of reliable and robust connectivity for remote areas.