Mawingu charges $1 for one week of unlimited access, $3 for a month. The average Kenyan earns $26 a week.
Now, Baraka is helping other would-be entrepreneurs achieve their dreams by showing them how to earn a living online.
“If you get the right people, I believe we have lots of them who are determined, who have the technology know-how to make money. If they can get this kind of employment in rural areas, they don’t have to keep going to Nairobi,” he explains. “Mawingu gives them a chance.”
This is particularly important in a country like Kenya, where more than 50 percent of the population is 18 years old or younger.
The availability of affordable Internet access is critical to keeping young people in rural areas, agrees Nanyuki Red Cross representative Kuria. “Before, if you wanted a good job, a better job, you had to go to a bigger town. Now people have opportunities. Here.”
The dream, says Maggie Hobbs, is that affordable, reliable Internet access will help enable a million people like Kuria and Baraka.
More broadly, the dream for TV white space technology, says Adaptrum’s Tang, is to connect the 4 billion people in the developing world who do not have Internet access today.
Microsoft-supported TV white spaces-enabled Internet is being used in 15 countries on five continents.
Along with its partners, Microsoft has helped deploy this technology to bring lifesaving, specialized medicine to women in Botswana; to rapidly deploy networks in response to natural disasters, such as in the Philippines and most recently in Nepal; to connect universities in Ghana and Tanzania; and to bring online three provincial areas and 28 schools in Namibia.
“We’ve seen this work on a small scale, here. Now we have an opportunity to work with Mawingu to see us scale up in a broader effort,” says Paul Garnett, a director of Affordable Access Initiatives at Microsoft. We’re in 12 places in Kenya now. We’ll be in a couple hundred more in a year or so.”