Affordable internet connects poor Nairobi neighborhoods

STORY: Kenyan Daniel Nzoma is a data specialist. He reviews computer codes for driverless cars and crop disease detection.

His work is reliant on reliable and fast internet - something previously unavailable in Pipeline - the Nairobi neighborhood he lives in.

“If you don't have internet, unfortunately you cannot work from home and also the internet should be reliable in the sense that it can be able to manage their work and all that.”

Nzoma says he has been helped by start-up Poa Internet.

Poa aims to provide fast, cheap internet to low-income Kenyan neighborhoods, such as Pipeline.

Nzoma pays around $22 a month for unlimited fast internet - about half the price charged by other internet providers.

Poa’s custom-built software platform and off-the-self cheap Wifi components connect home aerials to towers built in the neighborhoods it serves.

So far, they have connected 12,000 homes.

They also serve cyber cafes.

Poa CEO, Andy Halsall.

“We use a different set of technology than most of the other suppliers so in Kenya internet is heavily dominated by 3G and 4G operators with a few rich homes getting fibre to their home. We use a form of a super umped-up Wi-Fi to deliver to customers’ homes which allows us to reduce the cost to each home we connect, and we can pass that savings to our customers.”

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” and offers more access to jobs, trade, education and social inclusion.

Poa now hopes to expand beyond Kenya.

In January it closed a $28 million funding round led by infrastructure fund Africa50.