Facebook and its local partner Surf Kenya are offering low-cost Internet access services in multiple locations across the country, having installed and activated 600 Wi-Fi hotspots since the two companies started working together.
According to an update from Surf that was reported by The Nation, Internet access hotspots are now live in Eldoret, Naivasha, Nakuru, Mtwapa, Kisumu and Mombasa as well as the capital, Nairobi.
When Facebook and Surf announced the launch of the 'Express Wi-Fi by Facebook' service in late March this year, more than 100 hotspots were already up and running across the Nairobi metropolitan area, so another 500 access points have been added during the past five months.
The aim of the service is to support Kenya's plans to offer Internet access to everyone in the country: Facebook and its partner have been actively seeking local businesses that want to become Express Wi-Fi retailers and help spread the service to new areas. Access to the service can also be bought using the popular M-Pesa mobile money service.
The service is available at daily rates of 10 Kenyan shillings (US$0.10) for 40 Mbytes of data and Sh20 ($0.19) for 100 Mbytes. A week of access costs Sh50 ($0.48) for 300 Mbytes of data and Sh100 ($0.97) for 500 Mbytes, rates that make it "one of the cheapest Internet services" in Kenya, according to The Nation.
The main alternative for Internet access in Kenya is, of course, via the mobile operators. Kenya's leading mobile operator, Safaricom, offers a weekly mobile data bundle that costs Sh50 ($0.48) for 65 Mbytes of data or Sh100 for 130 Mbytes, but of course that service can be accessed in many more locations.
Facebook's efforts in Kenya are part of a broader effort by the Internet services giant, via its Internet.org mission, to introduce "affordable" Internet access to emerging markets. Express Wi-Fi services are currently available in India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Tanzania, as well as Kenya.
— Ray Le Maistre, , International Group Editor, Light Reading