A new concept that seeks to give cybercafés a new look while providing users with a novel experience is being experimented thanks to Google’s support in Senegal. Google has today sponsored a cybercafé to replace desktops with tablets. This experiment, the first of its kind, is with the Equinox cybercafé, a typical cybercafé located in Dakar’s vibrant Medina neighbourhood.
Because they are so easy to use, tablets can be a great way of introducing new users to the internet; however they’re still expensive for the majority of people in Africa. So how about making them available in cybercafés? Cybercafés would not only attract new customers interested in a more simple and interactive way of going online, but also make significant savings on their number one operating expense: electricity.
Tablets consume much less power than desktops or laptops, and do not require ventilation. Among other things, these savings can be reinvested in faster connectivity.
The owners of the cybercafés have replaced their fleet of computers with 15 tablets, and made them available at the same price as a regular cybercafé computer session at 300 XOF an hour (about $0.60).
Médoune Seck, the co-owner of Equinox says “this innovation is really great for our business, which is why I readily accepted to participate in this project. My customers are really pleased to hold the tablets in their hands and use them from the comfort of the arm chairs.”
When customers start a session on the tablet, they will find popular applications ready for immediate use, as well as shortcuts to the most visited local websites. They will be able to use the device comfortably seated on a couch, go to a private booth for a video chat or set their tablet on a dock and type away on a wireless keyboard. Once the session is finished, the cybercafé staff will help the customer perform a factory reset, to ensure that all of their private data on the device is fully erased.
Tidjane Deme, the office lead for Francophone Africa, says “the Internet powers economic growth and the Tabletcafé model could provide cybercafé owners with new lease of life for their business and the ability to better address the needs of the next wave of users.”
Google hopes that this concept will boost the broad internet economy and get more users in Africa using more tablets and enjoying the ease with which they access many applications.