Kenya’s sole power distributor – Kenya Power, plans to connect Kenyan rural homes with high-speed internet soon. The parastatal which has faced increasing pressure to improve its services and diversify them as a way to move away from loss making, is currently exploring options of connecting homes in Kenya’s underserved remote areas with internet to capitalize on the increasing uptake within the country. This of course will increase revenue streams from just supplying electricity to other segments of the economy.
Looking at the current service providers such as Zuku and JTL, Kenya Power has both the muscle in terms of infrastructure and finances to implement the project. The Electricity supplier has a couple of fibre-optic cables attached on its transmission poles that it leases to other service providers. This basically means it can utilize existing infrastructure and extend to areas where it doesn’t have them to effectively connect several areas within the country with internet.
Additionally, Kenya Power has in recent times increased power distribution to thousands of homes in rural areas, a development that can come in handy in it’s ambitions to also extend internet connection as a service to them.
Many parts in Kenya are yet to have reliable fixed internet connections despite some of them hosting large organizations that are left to rely on satellite or mobile broadband to access internet connection. The move is therefore expected to put pressure on existing providers such as Wananchi Group, Telkom Kenya, Kenya Data Networks, Safaricom, Jamii Telecoms, Access Kenya and Essar Telecoms, in a market segment they’ve enjoyed for quite some time now.
As of now, internet service providers in the country have been relying on Kenya Power’s expansive power transmission network to get access to the nearly eight million electricity customers and substantially reduce the cost of expensive infrastructure support involving the digging of trenches to lay terrestrial cables.
The power distributor still gets enormous amount in revenue from internet service providers such as in 2010, where it signed a 20-year lease agreement worth $3.8 million (Sh421 million) with Safaricom for use of a pair of fibre cables as well as Wananchi Group and Jamii Telecommunications with each signing five-year leases worth a total of $3.6 million (Sh403 million).