Supporting education with technology: OPIC client provides free internet to schools in Kenya
Wananchi Group Holdings Ltd., an OPIC client that is working to expand internet connectivity in East Africa, has used its fiber-optic infrastructure to install free internet access in more than 100 schools in Kenya.
In 2012, Wananchi obtained $72 million in OPIC financing for a project that is helping address the needs of Africa’s growing consumer class by improving data, voice, and video services in Kenya. It has more recently started to reach schools through a partnership with the Nairobi County Government and the Kenya Education Network. To date, Wananchi has introduced free internet to 133 schools serving a range of age and economic groups. It hopes to be able to reach the remaining 2,500 schools in Nairobi over the next three years and help advance the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals for children to complete a full course of primary schooling.
In addition to OPIC financing, Wananchi has also raised more than $250 million from institutional investors, including a significant amount from the ATMT Fund, supported by OPIC and managed by East Africa Capital Partners (EACP).
As one of the growing economies in Africa, Kenya is seeing rapid urbanization, growing household incomes, and an increase in consumer spending that has driven demand for telecommunications services.
Access to education remains a major development challenge and technology offers the potential to not only expand opportunities for individual students but also to help address the scale of the challenge. Another OPIC client, Bridge International Academies, is using technology to build a scalable and affordable education model that is already reaching 100,000 students in Kenya.