Poa Internet, an internet service provider that connects underserved communities in Kenya, has announced the first close of a $28 million financing round led by infrastructure investment platform Africa50.
Poa Internet already claims a strong position in its market but says that Africa50’s investment will help to finance the company’s national rollout as well as the launch of the business into other African markets.
Also participating in the first closing is Nairobi-based Novastar Ventures, which describes itself as “a venture capital manager dedicated to finding and supporting the next generation of exceptional entrepreneurs designing and executing innovative business models to profitably serve Africa’s mass markets”.
Novastar is making its third investment into the company. A number of other existing shareholders are also involved.
Since starting operations in 2016 Poa says it has continuously improved its operations and market position and currently has over 12,000 home internet customers. It boasts that its home internet is the only network that gives customers uncapped internet usage every day, plus access to over 10,000 street Wi-Fi hotspots. The company says it also has tens of thousands of street Wi-Fi customers.
This additional funding, the company says, demonstrates investors’ confidence in Poa’s ongoing strategy and underscores the need for African ISPs that focus on bridging the digital divide across the continent.
Poa is not alone. Similar offerings are rolling out in other parts of the continent, notably, as we reported last year, Nigerian ISP Fiam WiFi. This is one of Nigeria’s newest telecommunications companies, providing internet via hotspots to high-density, low-income communities that, the company says, have been short-changed for internet by incumbent operators.
It's still early days, but if such business models gain strong traction they could prove an attractive option for the many parts of Africa still unable to access affordable, reliable internet.