Internet Service Provider (ISP) poa! Internet, which delivers unlimited data at affordable rates for low-income communities within the Nairobi region has reported a significant growth for the past 18 months it has been in operation.
At the moment, poa! has deployed access points to the north of 120, most of which cover the Kawangware and Kibera slums in the nation’s capital city. It should be noted that the majority of these access points have been setup at schools and clinics to enhance local, social and economic development. These points serve a significant number if people in an area that houses more than 1 million Kenyans, with more than a quarter of them having access to smart handhelds that can be used to take advantage of the network, which is, by design, affordable as KES 10 can get a user an hour of unlimited internet. Currently, the service has over 21,000 subscribers.
Dubbed ‘community Internet’, poa!’s business model has, as mentioned, achieved considerable growth in terms of revenue that has surpassed the 400 percent mark since the start of 2017, a number that trumps the nation’s average growth rate of 12 percent according to Kenya’s ICT watchdog, the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA).
“Our business model has been structured in a completely novel way to open 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.”
Of the said subscribers, 53 percent of them tend to prefer the 1-hour plan that costs KES 10, while 45% of the lot buy poa! daily 24-hour plan for KES 50. 99 percent of these users access the service via mobile devices.
“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.”
More than 60 people are also earning a living in Kibera and Kawangware from the ISP’s services, as well as connecting local businesses such as cyber cafés and movie shops.
“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.