Kenya’s shifting Internet and Telecoms landscape.
The last couple of weeks have seen a whole raft of new developments in Kenya’s Internet and Telecoms sectors:
- The first major development is that the SEACOM high speed undersea cable has landed in Mombasa and work is underway to ensure that operations commence in June 2009 as scheduled. This will afford Kenyan’s for the first time true broadband internet access via their preferred internet service providers.
- The second was that Telkom Kenya had managed to secure in the region of Kes. 8 Billion from the local banking sector to fund the expansion of its services and network including its Orange Kenya offerings.
- The third major announcement was that the Access Kenya Group had secured funding of Kes. 400 Million from NIC Bank to expand itsÂ network infrastructure and offerings. This gives the Access Kenya Group a war chest of Kes. 1 Billion in addition to the Kes. 600 Million it already had in reserves.
- The fourth major announcement was that Safaricom was dissolving Onecom as its small to large enterprise internet services division and integrating the business as part of the broader Safaricom brand due to cost-cutting measures.
- The fifth announcement is that Google Kenya has launched an SMS search service that enables users with standard mobile phones to make SMS keyword searches via a short code service. This service clearly takes cognizance of the fact that most Kenyans do NOT have web-enabled mobile phones and as such SMS is an alternative channel to access Google’s search services.
- The last major (and shocking) announcement came from the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) which announced that WIMAX licenses would now cost around Kes. 270 Million to acquire and an annual fee of Kes. 14 Million to maintain.
All these developments mean that the next few years should become a pretty interesting for Kenya’s Internet services sector. The funding and roll-out of high quality internet infrastructure, coupled with the fast growing internet market, and the expected lower costs of access through the high speed SEACOM, TEAMS and EASSy undersea cables is going to change ALOT for businesses and individuals in Kenya. However, what remains to be seen is if the appetite for internet services (especially with such limited local content and online services) will match up with copious amounts of ubiquitous bandwidth at relatively low cost – will it ultimately make business sense? I certainly hope so!