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BRCK Acquires Kenya’s Public WiFi Service, Surf Internet

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EERIK HERSMAN - CEO, BRCK
Erik Hersman - CEO, BRCK

TL;DR

  • BRCK has acquired Surf’s assets for an undisclosed amount
  • Surf Kenya will seize to exist
  • Surf’s network will rebrand to Moja WiFi and BRCK will switch Surf’s current platform to Moja’s platform

The Details

BRCK is a Kenyan OEM that focuses on developing rugged mobile WiFi devices with the aim of providing internet access to the masses. The company has announced that it has acquired its competitor in the public WiFi space, Surf Kenya.

Surf has been around since 2015 but the company received attention after their partnership with Facebook where Surf provides low-cost internet access through Facebook’s Express WiFi program. Gadgets Africa has learnt that BRCK has acquired Surf’s assets – including their public wifi network and software Intellectual Property for an undisclosed amount.

This acquisition also means that Surf Kenya will close shop and seize all its operations, although BRCK did confirm that they would be hiring a number of Surf employees to join the BRCK team.

“BRCK is really focused on solving the connectivity gap in the market. We’re at a point where the signals are there and people have devices. The problem is 80% of internet-ready device users cannot afford data bundles or do not have access to the internet at home or at work. That means that it is not an accessibility problem, it is an affordability problem – it is a business model issue, not a technical issue,” said Erik Hersman, BRCK CEO.

Surf Internet will now be absorbed as part of the Moja network. Bumping up Moja’s current 300,000 unique monthly active users (MAU) to over 500,000 MAUs. The acquisition will see Moja’s free public wifi now be accessible from 2700 locations across Kenya.

Largest Public WiFi Network in East Africa

“Moja becomes the largest public wifi network in East Africa and one of the largest in the whole continent. To us, this is about growth, The idea is that by the end of the year we are at 1.5 Million users, so it is all about growth, growth, growth,” explains Erik.

Erik also tells us that Surf Kenya was their best choice at acquisition thanks to the assets the company holds through the hardware network and most importantly, their ‘great software for onboarding new locations to put up nodes’. “Of all public WiFi players, Surf is the only one that had the biggest footprint and this was interesting to us as we saw this as a way to accelerate,” he adds.

As of now, Surf Internet users will not see any changes to their experience as BRCK works on the particulars of moving from Surf’s current platform which charges users a subsidized fee to access the internet to Moja’s platform that’s completely free to the user.

BRCK will maintain current Surf services including Express WiFi. However, in around 6 months, Surf internet will completely shed off its branding and become part of the Moja network. Express Wifi will also be rebranded to Moja WiFi.

On top of the acquisition announcement, Erik also mentioned that BRCK was looking to expand into its third African market by end of 2019 but no particular details were given.

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