Poa Internet, a Kenyan internet service provider, has raised a $28 million Series C funding round led by Africa50. The funding round was joined by existing investor Novastar Ventures and takes the total investment raised by the startup to $36 million.
The startup will use the new investment to expand its reach, first across Kenya then progressively to other countries in Africa.
Founded in 2015, Poa Internet provides low-cost internet to individuals and small businesses in low-income neighborhoods in East Africa. Poa claims to offer customers access to affordable and reliable internet at 40pc cheaper than competitors, free content, and free online services and tools.
Currently, Poa Internet serves over 12,000 customers (homes and small businesses) in Nairobi’s low and middle-income neighborhoods and tens of thousands more through its street Wi-Fi connections.
Poa charges its customers a monthly fee of Sh1,500 (about $13). Poa users also have unlimited data usage, another aspect that gives their product an edge in a country where major ISPs offer monthly subscription bundles with data caps.
The startup has also established Wi-Fi hotspots in public areas, where users pay about $0.18 for 1 GB of data, 10 times cheaper than the country’s telcos charge for a similar bundle of non-expiring internet.
CEO and founder, Andy Halsall said: “We are focused on Kenya at the moment, but the problem we’re solving is continent-wide. And for us, it’s not just about getting people some connectivity. Our aim is to get a lot of people online and to give them a meaningful internet experience like the ability to stream videos, without worrying about how much data they’re consuming.
“Our internet speeds are 4mbps, which is fast enough for video because everyone wants to stream Netflix, use YouTube, download movies, and make video calls. So, we’ve designed our service to be fast enough to deliver video, but most importantly, our price is a winning factor.
“Our primary focus is to get the price as low as possible and to operate in the communities that don’t have fiber connectivity or are unlikely to get fiber. Therefore, we’re not really going to compete really against anyone because we are going after a market sector that is not well served.”
“Poa has been instrumental in bridging the needs of last-mile connectivity, and their ultra-low-cost solutions can be used to address the significant connectivity gaps in Kenya and across the continent as a whole. This is particularly important at a time when societies and economic activities are increasingly becoming digitized as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Africa50 managing director and head of infrastructure investments at Africa50, Raza Hasnani.
“Increasing access to reliable and affordable internet connectivity is strongly aligned with the key pillars of Africa50’s strategy, and we are excited to be part of this high impact journey and to support Poa’s growth in Africa,” said Hasnani.