A couple of days ago, President Kenyatta announced that Project Loon was going to start operations after securing approvals from the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) a few months, and the fast-tracked licensing from the Ministry of Transport and Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) that had taken a while to approve.
The recent announcement means that Telkom Kenya, in collaboration with Alphabet’s Loon Project, has been given a green light to launch the service that uses high-flying balloons to beam 4G signals, not just to everyone but folks in underserved and remote areas in Kenya.
This project was likely pushed because the country needs it. The COVID-19 menace is here in full force and has seen the Kenya administration introduce some stringent measures to ensure that its spread is managed.
Some of the state’s workforce is working from home, and need internet connections to do so. Students are also learning from home too, and in the current state of affairs where ICT services have taken root, it starts to make sense why internet companies are under pressure to offer services reliably and to as many people as possible.
However, serving the current needs is going to be challenging for obvious infrastructure limitations. Loon looks forward to bridging a section of that gap.
Now, Telkom Kenya had reported that the balloons will be launched from the U.S. in the coming weeks. Final tests would then be performed before the project goes fully official.
On the bright side of things, it appears that the first balloon is already in Kenya. The balloon was spotted today on Flightradar24. It is currently floating at Ngomeni in Eastern Kenya.
We hope more balloons will be flown here in the near future because the project is long overdue, and has the potential to accelerate internet adoption in select parts of Central Kenya and Rift Valley.