Poa! internet is a relatively new ISP in Kenya with a unique business model. Their focus is on the low income earners in the slums of Nairobi, the capital. They use solar powered hotspots to deliver the internet and provide free access to schools, health centres, churches, mosques and youth centres.
Poa! uses Liquid’s fibre network and established the numerous hotspots where users need only buy bundles and they connect to the WiFi hotspots. This is similar to what Econet and Telone WiFi Zones deliver but are targeted at less developed areas.
In Kenya, the internet penetration rate is over 89% compared to the 48.6% rate in Zimbabwe in Q2 2017. The worrying thing in Zimbabwe is that from Q1 to Q2 there actually was a decline by 0.4%, so we are actually going backwards.
Despite Kenya being closer to the global goal of 100% internet penetration, solutions like poa!’s to reach the remaining 10 or so percent in the country are coming. It is apparent we need such kinds of solutions in Zimbabwe more.
Let’s remember Kenya achieved that impressive internet penetration rate despite having a higher rural population to urban population proportion than Zimbabwe. In 2015 Kenya’s rural population was about 75% of total population whilst Zimbabwe’s was about 68% in 2016. What it means is that Kenya has done more to ensure the rural population gets internet access. ISPs like poa! will only improve on that.
Poa! internet’s bundles are priced aggressively. There is a bundle that costs Sh10 (~10 US cents) and gives access to the internet for one hour. Another bundle costs Sh50 (~50 US cents) and provides access for 24 hours. Both plans offer UNLIMITED access to the internet for their respective access intervals.
Zimbabwe sorely needs a similar solution as there is the real danger of some being left behind. If you have internet access to be able to read this article then you know how valuable a tool the internet is. If the free market will not bridge that gap and target the 52% unconnected in this country then the government would need to step up.
Will infrastructure sharing lead to lower internet costs and better internet coverage in the country? If yes, then the government should ensure a fair solution is found to the infrastructure sharing problem and find it quick. POTRAZ says they are working on it and we can’t wait for a workable solution.
There is uncertainty in the country right now but whatever happens we need this issue to be a priority.