The African Renewable Energy Distributor (ARED), a service company based in Rwanda provides alternative energy solutions in the form of Shiriki hubs, solar powered kiosks. Henri Nyakarundi, founder of ARED, said that the idea was borne from charging stations that are usually available at airports.
From rural to semi-urban towns and refugee camps, ARED tends to set up kiosks where they’re needed most. It’s been reported that it costs only five cents to fully charge a phone.
The inclination to have a kiosks in rural areas comes from Nyakarundi’s desire to make an impact. This is because most of the rural parts lack electricity supply, a factor that is most likely to set individuals back, especially in an area where the farmers transact via mobile money.
According to Nyakarundi, there are kiosks that serve up to 700 customers a day, but being able to charge cellphones is just a small part of the organization’s vision.
ARED also has kiosks with high-capacity routers, which can be found in urban settings. These include affordable hotspot data connection at only three cents for 10 minutes, along with downloadable health or education information that customers can have offline.
Nyakarundi explains that they have built edge storage capability on these kiosks to enable localized content distribution. Furthermore, since data is very expensive, especially for low-income people, the edge network comes in handy, enabling ARED to distribute offline content that sits on a router.
Whereas investments are being made in major cities, Nyakarundi believes the lesser-populated areas ought not to be overlooked. ARED is the only company with such a concept that encompasses different functions built into one.
At a time where such digital inclusivity is lacking in Africa, the idea is to bring access to applications, storage, and other network resources closer to the user and their devices. This, he explains, will either eliminate or minimize the cost of bandwidth, latency and other costs.
Currently, the Shiriki Hubs can be found in Rwanda and Uganda, but the Ivory Coast and Nigeria are the company’s next markets.