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    Inside Liquid Telecom’s intensive Sh20.3b last mile strategy to build Internet infrastructure at the Kenyan Coast


    Liquid Telecom Kenya has put in place several strategies to build Internet infrastructure in the country in almost all counties.

    The firm has laid 4200km of fibre cable Internet infrastructure, launched hi-speed rural
    satellite, partnered with the private sector to deliver ‘Hai buildings’
    that offer its low cost Internet service, developed rural microwave, and
    linked to every undersea cable landing in Mombasa.

    The five counties in Kenya with the greatest income inequality
    are all in the coastal region, making the coast, and especially Kwale
    and Kilifi, a priority for Liquid Telecom Kenya in providing high speed
    Internet to local businesses, county governments and rural banks.

    Paul Statham, the Chief Commercial Officer at Liquid Telecom took us though the firm’s strategies put in place to ensure Liquid Telecom Kenya products get to the coastal Kenya. The coastal plan comes comes as part of a comprehensive investment strategy in Internet
    infrastructure across Africa.

    1. WHAT STRATEGIES HAVE YOU PUT IN PLACE TO ENSURE LIQUID TELECOM
      KENYA PRODUCTS GET TO THE COASTAL KENYA?

    In 2016, Liquid Telecom Kenya additionally unveiled an intensive last
    mile strategy to build Internet infrastructure in Kenya at a cost of
    Sh20.3bn. Around $1m of this spend is being dedicated to adding hundreds
    of new WiFi hotspots across the country, including in Kwale, where new
    free, street WiFi is shortly being launched.

    We also run a reseller model at the coast, supporting a range of
    secondary ISPs as businesses, and generating extra employment, while
    also creating extra Internet access for consumers.

    2.      YOU RECENTLY INTRODUCED HAI INTERNET FOR SMES AND HOMES, HOW
    WELL IS THE PRODUCT PENETRATING IN THE COASTAL MARKET?

    Hai is Liquid Telecom’s retail Internet service for smaller businesses
    and homes.  We have so far created 103 Hai buildings in Mombasa, meaning
    that any business or consumer in these buildings can get connected to
    the low-cost service. So far, we have signed up 41 new businesses to Hai
    in Mombasa, and 99 in other parts of the coast region, making a total of
    140 new business customers in the coastal market.

    Hai internet is also unique in that it is run via an online platform
    that allows customers to join Hai through a web page that geo-maps Hai
    services by customer location, and allows new businesses to select the
    kind of Internet service they want, order, pay and track the delivery
    and service through one easy-to-use interface.

    3.      WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY HAI BUILDINGS?

    These are buildings installed with our infrastructure and ready to
    connect to clients. This approach has been aimed at making Hai
    connections much faster and more affordable, by sharply reducing the
    cost of installation. Now, a customer only needs to pay the monthly
    subscription fee, unlike before, when new customers were required to pay
    a Sh15,000 connection fee.

    4.      STILL ON HAI, DON’T YOU FIND STIFF COMPETITION FROM THE OTHER
    ESTABLISHED PROVIDERS IN THE MARKET?

    Hai Internet is affordable, efficient and reliable, and the best in the
    market, which are all factors that are pulling customers towards the
    brand. On top of that, most of the perceived competitors are our
    resellers anyway, so sometimes consumers are getting Hai indirectly,
    even when they don’t know Hai is the source Internet they are buying.

    5.      WHAT DOES IT REQUIRE FOR ONE TO BECOME A RESELLER OF INTERNET IN
    THE COAST REGION?

    Hai doesn’t yet have its own resellers. All our resellers are Liquid
    Telecom’s resellers. Plans are underway to adopt a more expansive
    reseller model at the coast to increase sales as well as awareness and
    availability. But, basically, a reseller must comply with the laws
    governing the industry; the company must be registered by the relevant
    authority, comply with the statutory bodies such as KRA, have its CAK
    licenses, and the other requirements businesses are subjected to as a
    matter of law. For Liquid Telecom Kenya, the key in selecting and
    registering resellers is their ability to reach out to a geographical
    location that we are not in or add services that compliment our products
    and services.

    6.      HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET CONNECTED AFTER A CLIENT MAKES AN
    APPLICATION?

    A client gets connected within a few days. It takes 48 hour to connect
    new fiber customers and 72 hours for wireless connections. The exact
    number of hours depends on where a customer is located, and the
    bandwidth needed.

    7.      WE UNDERSTAND LTK SPONSOR RALLY IN THE COUNTRY, WHAT OTHER CSR
    ACTIVITIES IS LTK INVOLVED IN ACROSS THE COUNTRY AND COAST IN
    PARTICULAR?

    Liquid Telecom completed a technical upgrade project with the Kenya
    Motor Sports Federation (KMSF) from 2015 until this year, bringing in
    state-of-the-art timing equipment it acquired from TAG Heuer, which it
    then donated to KMSF to allow it ti achieve internationally recognised
    timing in its rallies.

    We have provided free Wi-Fi connections in Kiambu and Nakuru Counties,
    with Nakuru free WI-Fi – Bilawaya project winning prestigious global
    award in 2016.

    Liquid Telecom with BRCKE Education delivered world-class Internet to
    the remote Kiltamany Primary School in northern Kenya and has now been
    awarded a tender by Communication Authority to connect 321 schools in 14
    counties, where the challenges of infrastructure are the greatest.

    Liquid Telecom is also offering internet to Kibera Slum residents
    through reseller Poa Internet with bundles range that start at Sh10 for
    unlimited Internet usage for an hour.

    8.      YOU RECENTLY VISITED KWALE AND KILIFI, WHAT KIND OF ENGAGEMENT
    DO YOU HAVE WITH THE TWO COUNTIES?

    We visited Kwale County to investigate new ways of working with the
    county government to provide Internet connection to the sub counties of
    Kinango, Kwale, Mvindeni, Mwereni and Lunga Lunga to advance
    communication and service delivery to the citizens. The results have
    been upgraded speeds in the county, and the county government’s launch,
    this month, of its new online portal KwalePay, as well as the upcoming
    free WiFi in Baraza Park and Ukunda.

    In Kilifi, we are working with a number of SMEs and businesses such as
    Umoja Rubber shoe manufacturers, the Kalro research institute, and the
    county government to achieve ongoing upgrades in Internet speeds,
    capabilities and access.

    9.      LOOKING AT INTERNET PENETRATION IN KENYA, NAIROBI STILL LEADS,
    ANY PLANS FOR MOMBASA TO KEEP UP WITH NAIROBI?

    Mombasa has been one of the major markets for Liquid Telecom Kenya, and
    we continue to upgrade out wireless base stations to achieve higher
    internet speeds for the city, as well as to expand the city’s number of
    fibre-connected Hai buildings.

    10.  ANY SIGNIFICANT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT YOU CAN STATE THAT INTERNET
    HAS BROUGHT TO KENYANS IN GENERAL?

    Internet has powered the rise in technology hubs across Africa and
    particularly in Kenya, which has the third highest number of tech
    centres and incubation hubs in Africa, at 27, after South Africa and
    Egypt. This has contributed to Kenya being known as the ‘Silicon
    Savannah’, for its advances in using technology and the Internet to
    solve both social and commercial problems. Internet penetration has also
    accelerated financial inclusion in the country, helped micros and SMEs
    in slum areas, such as Kibera, and is transforming government services,
    such as birth certificates, IDs, driving licenses, passports, company
    registration, and tax returns, all of which can now be done online. This
    is also driving county and government revenues upwards. The advanced
    level of Internet access in Kenya is also driving business growth, with
    studies showing a 10 per cent rise in broadband penetration lifts GDP by
    1.38 per cent in developing economies.

    11.  WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF INTERNET IN KENYA AND AFRICA AS A WHOLE?

    We are heading to a time when Internet will be affordable and accessible
    to the vast majority of Africans and Kenyans in both urban and rural
    areas, at speeds as fast, or faster, than in many developed economies.
    At now an average 13.7 megabits per second, Kenya’s connection speed
    speeds already beat France, the United States, and South Korea,
    translating into better services and economic growth. But, the challenge
    in connecting rural Africa remain profound, across the lack of network
    infrastructure and electricity.

    The uptake of internet will continue and we will start to see far more
    wireless systems, collecting garbage, controlling traffic, monitoring
    security, and even controlling appliances, in the new Internet of
    Things.

    The Liquid Telecom Group now runs some 10,000km of sea cables from South Africa to the Middle East. Liquid Telecom Kenya is also connected to Liquid Telecom’s pan-African
    terrestrial network, which is supplying international connectivity to
    landlocked and coastal countries in Eastern, Central and Southern
    Africa. In addition, Liquid Sea, which took two years to complete,
    offers speeds of 20-30Tbps, which is up to 10 times the capacity of
    existing submarine cables in the region.

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