Kenyan start-up company brings fast internet, tech jobs to poor neighborhoods
Start-up company Poa Internet is aiming to provide fast, cheap internet, and as a result tech jobs, to low-income Kenyan neighborhoods.
Poa's custom-built software platform and off-the-shelf cheap Wifi components connect home aerials to towers it builds in the neighbourhoods it serves. So far, they have connected 12,000 homes and also serve cyber cafes in Nairobi.
"We use a form of super amped-up Wifi to deliver. So, we use wireless network to deliver to customers’ homes and this allows us to reduce the cost," Poa chief executive Andy Halsall told Reuters.
Kenya is one of Africa's most connected countries - 42% of Kenyans were online at the start of 2022, say internet researchers Datareportal. But connection quality is often low.
Cheap, fast internet bridges the "digital divide," offering more access to jobs, trade, education, and social inclusion. But few, if any, companies lay fibre connections in poor neighbourhoods. Most people there connect through their phones using 3G or 4G data bundles.
In January, Poa closed a $28 million funding round led by infrastructure fund Africa50; it hopes to expand beyond Kenya. Halsall said the five-year-old company would turn a profit within a year.