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Brief Published: 31 May 2013

BRCK: Back-up Internet Generator


The internet acts as a communication lifeline to some of the most remote parts of the world. Yet in many areas, routine power cuts and intermittent wi-fi signal means web access is often unreliable.

BRCK is a portable modem that helps users connect to the internet no matter where they are in the world. Developed by African non-profit tech company Ushahidi – makers of the crowdsourced data platform of the same name – BRCK acts as a back-up internet generator that can provide internet access for up to 20 devices at once.

The device can switch between 3G, 4G, wi-fi and ethernet connections, depending on which signal mode is available. In the event of a power cut, the device comes with a battery that can provide continuous power for up to eight hours.

Earlier this week, BRCK surpassed its $125,000 goal on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, and the team aim to deliver the first BRCK devices to backers in November 2013.

Internet use is flourishing in Africa, driven by the popularity of smartphones and other portable devices. Yet despite major investment in coastal internet cables over the past few years, signal remains patchy across much of the continent. Tech brands are stepping in to increase connectivity – in February 2013, US tech firm Microsoft launched an initiative that harnessed solar-powered towers to deliver broadband internet via unused wireless frequencies.

To learn more about digital opportunities in Africa, read SXSWi: Digital Africa and Africa’s Tech Boom.