Internet firm Mawingu gets Sh1.1bn for expansion drive

Rural and peri-urban Internet service provider Mawingu Networks has received $9 million (Sh1.1 billion) in funding from three equity investors to fuel its expansion drive.

The latest funding saw the entry of a new investor, InfraCo Africa, adding to existing institutional investors E3 Capital and Dutch development bank FMO.

InfraCo invested $6 million (Sh739.5 million) while the other two contributed $1.5 million (Sh185 million) apiece.

“InfraCo Africa’s $6 million commitment, delivered through its dedicated investment arm, will support Mawingu to roll out infrastructure across Kenya that will increase access to affordable Internet connectivity to underserved households and businesses,” said the infrastructure investment firm in a statement.

InfraCo is backed by the UK, Netherlands and Switzerland governments.

Founded in 2012 with an initial mission of providing Internet services to the community on the foothills of Mount Kenya in Nanyuki, Mawingu uses wireless technology to build Internet networks in rural and peri-urban areas. In its sector statistics report for the three months to last September, the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) indicated that Mawingu had 14,370 Internet subscriptions or 1.5 percent of the total market share.

Put against rivals, the numbers placed it at position six after market leader Safaricom (35.6 percent), Wananchi Group trading as Zuku (25.5 percent), Jamii Telecommunications (22.1 percent), Poa Internet (10.8 percent) and Liquid Telecommunications Kenya Limited (1.7 percent).

In January last year, Poa Internet raised Sh3.1 billion from Africa50, a financing vehicle backed by the African Development Bank, to expand its services to more low-income areas in Kenya and beyond its borders. Currently operating in Kenya’s 15 counties, Mawingu says the new round of funding will enable it to expand to an additional 25 counties with a pointed focus on rural markets.

“Mawingu will begin its expansion plans in February 2023 and has set its eyes on western Kenya targeting Kisii, Migori, Bungoma and Kakamega. This kick-off will set the pace for the year as more parts of the country will be connected monthly, moving forward,” said the firm.

Demand for fixed Internet has surged in recent years following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 as people lean towards working from home and schools adopt e-learning.

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