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Where Africa and Technology Collide!

The DIY Wireless Mesh Guide for Africa

Spurred on by a question from a reader about successful implementation of wireless mesh networks in Africa, I started to do a little digging. The appeal of wireless meshes is especially high in very remote and unconnected areas of Africa, primarily because it allows simple (though limited) connectivity where it wasn’t available before.

A good example of a deployment in Africa, and the reasons behind it, is Wireless Africa’s Mpumulanga deployment in South Africa. Here they answer, “what problem is being addressed?“:

“The main thrust is to connect the clinic to its community hospice and thus allow them to extend their computer facilities to the hospice (practise management software and statistics gathering). This is most easily achieved through a wireless network and more specifically a mesh because of the terrain.

A mesh network requires a number of nodes in areas not owned by the clinic but that are part of the commuity: schools and farmers. The main thrust of the research question is to implement the network in such a way that the firstly the clinic and secondly the community have taken ownership of the network. That they have created systems that ensure that the infrastructure is maintained and expanded by the users of the network.”

A DIY Wireless Mesh Guide (3.2Mb PDF) based on Freifunk was put out by Wireless Africa late last year.

Looking for More Success Stories

I’m still looking for cases of successful wireless mesh networks in Africa. If you have heard of one, please comment below, or use the contact form.

I realize that there have been some larger, industrial strength, deployments by the likes of KDN in Kenya with their Butterfly Network (though I haven’t heard to many stories of people actually getting online with it). But what I’m more interested in right now is examples of use in the more rural areas of Africa.

More Resources:

Wireless Lab Website
Open Mesh – open source mesh
Meraki Mesh – business solution
Mesh Dynamics
Older, but good, conversation on O’Reilly Net
MIT’s Roofnet


  1. As soon as I’m in Sudan, you can bet I’ll be planning how to put one together. A year or so ago I saw an Engadget post on wireless repeaters that were solar powered. I’m thinking those are basically a necessity for a rural African implementation for a mesh network. If the cost is within reason, I’m going to look to buy a few to take with me.

  2. Jan Groenewald

    August 2, 2008 at 3:17 am

    These are more urban than rural,

  3. We are enthusiasts discussing slightly different types of Wireless Mesh Networks (mainly sharing internet access with Meraki and Open-Mesh) but thought it might be of interest to you readers for resources.


  4. Jan, thanks for the links to other communities working on wireless meshes.

    Billy, thanks for your input. For those that don’t catch the link in his name, you can find it at Merakeye.

  5. ICT Update magazine recently featured a few stories of successful wireless networks, includinga full issue dedicated to wireless in rural areas:
    have a look at:

    and also:

    for info on the long-distance Bosco set up covering IDP camps in Uganda.

  6. Hows about Johannesburg Area Wireless Group. Loads others too.

    See http://www.wug.za.net

  7. check out the Africa research group, Wireless Africa: http://www.wireless-africa.org The researchers are attempting to go the next level and develop sustainability models for their respective community wireless network.

  8. Networking 4 U

    June 10, 2009 at 11:35 am

    Hi could you please email me more details as to how I can aquire the service in my area, Muizenberg, Cape Town South Africa

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