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Kenya slums move online with country’s fastest internet growth.

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Poa! Internet technician setting up their internet point in Kibera
poa! internet, which provides low cost community Internet across Kenya’s slum areas, has for the last 18 months been growing faster than any other Internet Service Provider (ISP) in the country. Kenya’s slum dwellers are now moving online in their thousands, helping to equalize one of the greatest digital divides in Africa, between the connected and the unconnected.
The low-cost ISP has now deployed over 120 access points in the Kawangware and Kibera slum areas of Nairobi. Many of these points are installed at schools, clinics and other community locations covering an area that is home to around 1m low-income residents, of which approximately 200,000 are smartphone users. poa!’s service provides unlimited internet plans to the surrounding residents, offering them access from just Sh10 (around 10 U.S. cents) an hour, instead of the traditional data bundle pricing that charges people by the MB.
The ISP’s unique business model, which poa! calls ‘community Internet’, has achieved monumental revenue growth of over 400 per cent since the beginning of 2017. This in comparison to an industry average revenue growth of just 12 per cent for the country’s other ISPs, according to the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA).
In this short space of time, poa! has already connected over 21,000 subscribers, many of whom could never have previously afforded to access the internet in any meaningful way.
“Our business model has been structured in a completely novel way to open up real Internet access to low-income subscribers,” said Andy Halsall Chief Executive Officer at poa! Internet. “Our mission from the outset was to move the country’s lowest income communities online, comprehensively and pervasively.”
Some 53 per cent of the poa!’s subscribers currently buy the 1-hour data plan for Sh10 an hour while 45 per cent buy the poa! daily 24-hour plan for just Sh50.
“We also believe that by offering completely unlimited internet within these communities, we open new possibilities in the local institutions that are hosting our hotspots in accessing teaching materials and online research, communicating with patients, and providing online medical services, and new business opportunities for surrounding residents.”

 

Around 99 per cent of all poa! customers access the internet through mobile devices, thanks in part to the subsidised prices for smartphones in Kenya, which has seen the country achieve one of the highest smartphone penetration rates in the world.
In addition, the ISP has also created jobs for over 60 people from Kibera and Kawangware so far.
“Our model also focuses on employing people from these same areas to create new jobs as well, in areas where unemployment currently stands at 50 per cent or more,” said Andy.
poa! Internet also provides connections to local businesses such as cyber cafés and movie shops therefore generating more jobs again by enabling expansion of the local economy.
“I have been able to receive a minimum of 50 clients a day as compared to the 10 I used to get when using a modem from another Internet provider,” said Alfred Ouma, who owns a cyber café at Zabibu Community Centre, in Olympic, Kibera

Has technology greatly impacted on present- day journalism?

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Modern computer media devices

The impact of technology on journalism is a question that has been asked and answered many times in many forums. However, we are all aware of one aspect of technology and that is it is ever evolving which means we have to keep up with it.

In this regard, the Aga Khan University School of Media and Communications (GSMC) has partnered with the Media Council of Kenya (MCK) to study how new technologies have impacted journalism.  IPSOS Synovate will also participate as the implementing partner.

From the research, it is expected that we will find out about the challenges and opportunities associated with new skills adopted by journalists and their impact on news organizations.

The study will target journalists currently working in Kenya, and looking to find out about the various technologies they are using and their level of adoption as well.

“Based on the findings, GSMC will design and develop programmes that will address the gaps and needs of journalists,” said Michael Meyer, the founding dean at GSMC.

According to Meyer, the study will be an online survey targeting professionals working in various platforms including radio, print, online and television.

As it stands now, more media houses and journalists are finding it necessary to embrace new online tools such as blogs, social media and mobile apps in their work because if they don’t they will be overtaken by citizen journalism which keeps attracting more people by the day.

Today publishing news is less time-consuming, less expensive and you do not have to go and take images at the site or wait for someone to bring you’re their most cherished photo, you can just log onto their Facebook page and you will have a good photo for the story. Today, we easily carry out interviews online with our subjects and that has significantly reduced the amount of time one would use to publish a news story as you do not have to go to the field miles away to get a story. As long as they are online, bingo! You have your story.

With the uptake of all these tools there has also been a surge in fake news because anyone can get access to a blog and post whatever they want about the topical issues of the day. This has posed grave danger to the security of the country, people’s reputations, relationships, privacy and the marriage institution as well.

According to a study commissioned by the strategic communications consultancy Portland in collaboration with GeoPoll, 90% of Kenyans have seen or heard false news around the 2017 general election, with 87% reporting instances of deliberately false – or fake – news. The Reality of Fake News in Kenya, sought to quantify the prevalence and impact of false information during an election campaign in Africa.

 

Apart from fake news, technology has made many journalists throw ethics out of the window in an effort to compete with the merchant of fake news and citizen journalists. Some journalists do not allow themselves time to verify facts or even look for more decent photos. In some instances, people will post graphic photos of a dead or injured person with total disregard to their family. As expected, more people will flock to the website to see the photos and the

website will get more traffic as compared to the other news outlets. While the rewards maybe immediate or long-term, they can also lead to perennial court cases and you may have to pay billions in litigation for a fake story defamation or invasion to privacy.

 

SupaBRCK’s Moja free WiFi goes live in Kenya, firm partners Vanu & Facebook to test in Rwanda

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Image Source:BRCK

BRCK in March announced Moja, a free public WiFi project for smartphone users in Kenya. The service is finally live in a number of areas in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital and has signed up partners Facebook and Vanu for similar trials in rural Rwanda.

Moja was announced sometime back in Kenya and is now live in a number of parts in the city. TechMoran is yet to establish Moja WiFi’s local network partners in Kenya but Vanu Inc is providing low-energy and solar-powered base stations to BRCK in Rwanda.

Unlike Rwanda where BRCK is the only firm working on free public WiFi, Surf and Poa Internet are working on similar but ad free models targeted at low-cost communities at a daily, weekly or monthly fee. Free or affordable internet is a great initiative  and BRCK’s Moja has evaded the net neutrality debate by running ads to pay for Internet in Kenya. In Rwanda, Facebook’s Free basics is the main focus and might raise eyebrows.

It’s not a big deal though as Airtel runs Facebook’s Free Basics service in various markets to help bring as many people online as possible.

Back to the project in Rwanda.

If this partnership works, and the pilot proves successful, BRCK would have found its holy grail in the Moja free WiFi network, after the rugged BRCK v.1 turned out to be too expensive and bulky for individuals and government agencies in Africa to deploy in remote schools. The earlier version went for $200+, hardware alone.

In Rwanda, the SupaBRCK, and its Moja software and Vanu are building a local content delivery network (CDN) with free content such as licensed music, news, books, TV shows and of course Facebook allowing users in off-grid areas to connect to great educational and entertainment content, TED shows, jobs and Facebook then the rest of the internet, which is free at the moment.

Using its Vanu SuperPico and a small laptop based GSM MSC, Vanu runs a private GSM Network capable of operating as a standalone GSM network or as a GSM extension to a VoIP wireline network. The SuperPico is a weatherproof, power-efficient GSM Base Station Subsystem (BSS) that is specifically designed for outdoor deployments and has a superior transmit footprint than most Micro Base Stations.

Together the SuperPico Cellular Radio and BSS Controller constitute a GSM BSS offering that can efficiently deliver voice and data services in a compact and portable package. Coupled with a laptop based MSC, the SuperPico is ideally suited for rapid deployment or mobile GSM infrastructure. The system can operate in disconnected mode when a backhaul network is not available, and can utilize an IP network for backhaul when available, The system has been qualified with satellite, microwave, DSL, and WiFi backhaul networks.

SupaBRCK’s Moja WiFi therefore has a reliable hardware partner optimized for rapid setup with minimal configuration. Vanu’s hardware is able to make voice calls and automatically recovers from power outages and can utilize alternative power such as solar or vehicle battery.

Moja free WiFi is also being deployed in Kenya in restaurants, bars, cottages and in Matatus on various routes. Matatu WiFi will not work though due to fear of pickpockets who most times collude with bus crew. However, the general population loves free internet and the firm would make a kill if it signs up as many advertisers as possible. Safaricom’s Vuma WiFi died and Google’s Wazi WiFi failed too and Liquid Telecom has been talking about free WiFi in urban centers for years now but that doesn’t mean our friends at BRCK can’t try it out.