Dakar, Senegal, is where the first tablet cafe has been opened with the help of Google. Google was reported to have been working on bringing internet to Africa and this is one of the ways it has gone about doing that. “This is the first tablet cafe in the world, a cafe that works with tablets,” said Tidiane Deme, the head of Google in French-speaking Africa, on a Google Blog.
The concept, introduced by the internet search giant, is a simple twist on traditional cyber cafes, which have been springing up across Africa as the internet boom takes hold, ditching PCs for tablet computers.
When Medoune Seck, 33 opened his Equinoxe cyber cafe six years ago, he quickly discovered that frequent power cuts and exorbitant electricity bills were a major headache for him and his customers. Then along comes Google offering funding last year to turn one cyber cafe in Africa into a pilot tablet cafe. Seck applied and his cyber cafe was picked as the guinea pig.
Like Indian cities, Dakar also gets frequent power cuts and rising power bills. Therefore, Indian cafe owners who are already suffering from dwindling footfalls can benefit from including tablets in their inventory. This is because tablets use batteries and mobile data connections, which make them immune to power cuts.
While for Seck tablets cost more than PCs, in India that is not the case as tablets cost as little as Rs 4,000 and yet will enable massive savings in terms of power backup cost and batteries that need to be bought for UPS.
Also, tablets consume 25 per cent less energy compared to a low powered PC and therefore add to savings as well. Tablets have other advantages as well. The touchscreen is simple to use. Keyboards can be customised to suit the local language without any additional cost and therefore can initiate those people to use the internet who didn’t do so because of a lack of relevance. Another challenge in setting up cafes in India is the lack of a wired internet connection in most Indian towns, and since tablets are WiFi enabled, setting up WiFi networks using mobile SIM cards and 3G routers can address that concern as well.