Google to partner with Kenya telecoms to bring mobile internet coverage to rural areas
The California-based technology firm, Google, has announced plans to deliver mobile internet coverage to rural areas of Kenya through a network of floating balloons.
Through its Project Loon, the company aims to provide millions of people in rural locations with up to 4G-LTE speeds through ground stations and fibre connections.
Google is wanting to sign deals with local telecommunication operators in order to deliver the project to Kenya.
10 balloons have been deployed for testing above Nakuru, Manyuki, Nyeri, and Marsabit.
The nation’s Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) has announced its approval of the project.
“It is companies such as X [formerly Google X] that innovate and provide solutions that benefit our city,” stated Sammy Itemere, Ministry of ICT’s Principal Secretary.
“We welcome the use of high-altitude balloons to create an aerial wireless network that offers real benefits to consumers.”
The Ministry has noted that the aerial network could lower the costs of connecting Kenyans to the internet.
Itemere spoke at a workshop event that aimed to introduce the aerial network proposal to stakeholders.
Google has discussed a partnership with Telkom, however nothing has been confirmed.
“Telkom has not yet deployed any service on this solution as we are still in discussions with the team from Loon to conclude on potential partnerships and synergies, using their solutions,” remarked George Mlaghui, Chief Corporate Communications Officer at Telkom.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.