The world’s first tablet cafe has opened in Dakar and already Google’s latest experiment is turning out to be a major game changer. Bordered by Mauritania and Mali in West Africa, Senegal battles with frequent power outages and sluggish internet connections that cut into any cyber cafe’s bottom line, but tablets circumvent both problems.
When Google launched a competition for one business in all of Africa to receive a suite of tablets to convert a cyber cafe into a tablet cafe, Médoune Seck from Senegal applied.
He had been running a cyber cafe in the country’s capital for several years, and struggled with power cuts and high electricity bills and was ready to try anything new to make his business more successful.
So Google gave him 15 new tablets and he kept five of his PCs to populate the newly-dubbed Tablette Café. A world first, it definitely won’t be the last.
“Tablet computers will revolutionise Africa, and Senegal,” 33-year-old Seck told AFP.
Not only do they consume 25 percent less energy than PCs, but they are easier to use and they rely on a mobile data connection. So, when the city’s cyber cafes are shut down because of electrical outages, Seck can keep his doors open.
The place is already a huge hit. People from across the demographic spectrum have come in to experiment with the new tablets, AFP reports, including an elderly grandmother and teens frustrated with regular cyber cafes and their money-hogging dinosaur computers.
For less than one dollar an hour, clients can enjoy the tablets while relaxing in armchairs and loungers, or they can rent one of three private booths to have a private video conversation.
Three PCs are still mounted to the wall, but they don’t get much attention anymore.
“Our hope is that cyber cafes attract new customers interested in a more simple and interactive way of going online, and make significant savings on their number one operating expense: electricity,” Alex Grouet, Google’s business development manager in Francophone Africa, said in a blog post.
A brilliant concept, the tablet cafe is bound to take foot in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon, where people go for hours without power every day – particularly this time of year.
Image via AFP