The modem, which can switch between Wi-Fi, 3G and fixed broadband, was unveiled at the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh and will be retailing at US$199.
The modem, dubbed BRCK, works like a mobile phone, switching between Wi-Fi and 3G when a fixed line network is down, reports the BBC.
BRCK was developed by Ushahidi, a Kenyan non-profit tech company that specialises in developing free and open source software for information collection, visualisation and interactive mapping.
It also allows users to plug in a SIM card to offer a network anywhere in reach of a mobile tower and, where signal is hard to find, there is also an antenna to boost signal strength.
Juliana Rotich, a senior TED fellow, explained the frustrations she and her team had with making do with hardware that is mainly non-compliant or non-compatible in Africa.
This inspired Rotich to ask herself: “Why do Africans use technology designed for London and Los Angeles?”.
“While Africa may have joined the digital revolution and mobile is becoming ubiquitous, internet connectivity is not always reliable and the price of connecting is high,” she said.
“We get online and then there is a power cut and we are plunged into darkness and the internet connection goes down.”
Rotich was also optimistic that Africa can now kickstart a hardware revolution in Africa after a positive reception of the device.
“It is currently extremely difficult to do hardware in Africa. Getting components can be a logistical nightmare. We had people carrying components from the US which led to some interesting conversations with border guards,” she said.
The BRCK has an eight-hour battery and cloud-based software which means it can be accessed from anywhere to see how Wi-Fi and electricity are performing or to manage alerts and applications.
In a statement on their blog Ushahidi said it is looking forward to testing the BRCK in Kenya and remote places.
“We also have one of the big prizes left – the Silicon Savannah BRCK Safari. An epic trip around Kenya with the Ushahidi gang to product test the BRCK in all sorts of wild environments. From rhino charges to coastal excursions, from the iHub to anything else we can dream up – it’ll be a trip to remember, guaranteed,” the post said.