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Next generation utility pilots internet access in rural communities

The next generation utility BBOXX has launched a pilot to provide internet access for rural communities in Rwanda.

This forms part of the company’s vision to transform the lives of the developing world’s off-grid communities by expanding access to a range of crucial utility services.

According to the solutions provider currently 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. Read more: Unleashing Africa’s next generation of digital innovators

Mansoor Hamayun, CEO and co-founder, said: “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.”

Delivering data access

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 10-20Mbps 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.

Hamayun added: “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.”

Babalwa Bungane
Babalwa Bungane is the content producer for ESI Africa - Clarion Events Africa. Babalwa has been writing for the publication for over five years. She also contributes to sister publications; Smart Energy International and Power Engineering International. Babalwa is a social media enthusiast.