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Message-ID: <199711242054.PAA09391@info.usaid.gov>
Date: Mon, 24 Nov 1997 14:27:00 -5
Sender: "African Network of IT Experts and Professionals (ANITEP) List"
Comments: Authenticated sender is <cochrane@pop.igc.apc.org>
From: Jeff Cochrane <cochrane@IGC.ORG>
Organization: USAID/M/IRM/CIS
Subject: Kenya and Low Cost Email

Kenya and Low Cost Email

From Jeff Cochrane, USAID, 24 November 1997

Greetings Afrik-ITes!

Some good news from Kenya. I reported in October of 1996 on a visit to Kenya during which I met with quite a few local Internet service providers. At that time the government of Kenya was apparently planning to impose a fee of $5000 on all the providers. Many of the smaller providers told me that this might drive them out of business.

Well it seems that one of the smaller providers (small in the sense of financial capitalization) has managed to resolve its licensing issues with the government, and will remain in business for the foreseeable future. I just spoke with the Director of Thorntree, who informs me that shortly after my September 1997 visit to Nairobi, his organization secured a license for continued operations.

I am interested in smaller providers like Thorntree because in general I see them as quite receptive to the needs of lower income clientele, as well as the needs of clientele in places with problematic telephone infrastructure.

While I am not endorsing Thorntree's service in particular, I am impressed with any organization that maintains a committment to low-cost basic email. I hope that other providers in Kenya will give careful consideration to that end of the market. If there are other providers of low-cost services in Kenya, I would encourage them to make their presence known in this forum so that we can apprise our friends, colleagues, and partners in Kenya. Service providers in other countries would also do well to consider this market.

I quote from Ron Nunn's email below for those that are interested in recording details for various databases. Ron is the Director of ThornTree.

Jeff @ Washington

The Director of ThornTree writes (and I quote with his permission):

> ThornTree now has it's own leased line and we have also started
> charging flat fees instead of charging by volume. Our new personal
> e-mail rates are Kshs. 880 ($13.50) per month from 6:00 pm to 8:00
> am. Our professional rate which allows access any time of the day is
> from Kshs. 1,250 per month. ($22.50). We are also giving a special
> rate now through December 25th which is 30% off on these rates.

> They Christmas special rates are US Dollars $8.70 and $14 per month
> respectively. These are for unlimited e-mail voulume, however we do
> not provide WWW access, nor do we plan to for some time to come.

> We have taken almost a year to write our own Fido to Unix gateway
> software which is now running fairly smoothly. We felt it necessary
> to write our own software because there is no adequate commercial
> software for Fido/Unix conversion...

> We will continue to support and expand Fido-Net services in Kenya
> since we believe that it is still the best and most appropriate
> software technology for using e-mail on noisy copper telephone lines
> such as we have here.

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