Leep Africa, a Johannesburg-based South African company, has developed the world’s first Internet of Things (IoT) mobile hotspot network. Its product, Leep Connect, will be piloted in select Bolt vehicles and in independent minibus taxis to provide free internet to passengers and drivers alike.
The company said commuters are provided with free internet access on their daily travels which they can use at their discretion. It added that users are not offered with cached content but rather pure internet access. This provides commuters across socioeconomic lines in South Africa reliable access to the internet.
George Georgiades, Industrial Engineer, co-founder of Leep Africa and developer of Leep Connect, says that he aspires to empower people during their daily travels with Leep Connect.
“The minibus taxis are the backbone of the South African economy. Taxi commuters are often data-starved during these trips as they simply cannot afford mobile data. It’s largely wasted and unproductive time,” the innovator says.
“Now we can connect them to the internet at no charge and give them the ability to use their daily commute to keep in contact with friends and family, apply for work, read or watch the news, find information for their studies, and so on.”
The company claims that the initiative helps Bolt drivers by reducing the data costs of their own entrepreneurial business each month, enabling them to keep costs under control and grow their income. Passengers who can access free data while they are on a trip will benefit from reduced data costs too – and they can enjoy their content while they are on an e-hailing trip.
Leep Africa funds this internet access through third-party marketing, bringing together advertisers and networks to connect end-users to the internet at zero cost. Additionally, through collecting anonymous data, Leep can perfect the user experience and find out how users are interacting with the system as a whole, as well as develop new key insights about how people use transport in South Africa.
This is accomplished by using a network of IoT nodes to create an easily scalable and modifiable WiFi network.
“It is highly customisable and can be used in various industries and environments,” Georgiades explains.
“It allows space for new and innovative ways of marketing and customer interaction. We are looking at ways to grow our products in the transportation industry and see how we can move beyond it, too.”
The pilot programme for Leep Connect launched on 22 October 2020 and will continue into early 2021 in both Bolt vehicles and minibus taxis.
Leep Africa was established in 2019 and uses technology to improve the lives of people across the continent. Its focus is on networks, devices and data. It was established by Georgiades, who also operates Tecbot, a custom-tailored IT solutions company, together with Paul Selibas, a Software Engineer and Payments Specialist. Georgiades and Selibas have led Leep Africa to build the product, Leep Connect, where all the software has been designed and developed in-house in South Africa by the company.
Leep Africa believes that the internet is a basic human right as it improves people’s lives and provides people with access to information. Leep Africa fills this gap in South Africa and aims to continue installing Leep Connect in more vehicles while expanding the network to modes of transport and beyond.