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Kenya’s BRCK becomes largest public Wi-Fi network in Sub-Saharan Africa1 minute read

BRCK was formed in 2013 by some of the co-founders of Ushahidi and
Nairobi’s iHub

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Photo - BRCK website

BRCK, the Kenyan company bringing internet access to East Africa, has 
acquired Surf, another internet provider, to become the largest public 
WiFi network in Sub-Saharan Africa.

BRCK was formed in 2013 by some of the co-founders of Ushahidi and 
Nairobi’s iHub as a means of countering Kenya’s notorious power 
failures with a portable hotspot, It then expanded into education 
bringing multimedia video education into classrooms across East Africa.

In 2017, it launched a smart system called Supa BRCK, which aimed to 
solve the lack of internet access in Africa by bringing the internet 
to rural villages.

By acquiring Surf, which is the second-largest public WiFi provider in 
Kenya, BRCK aims to grow faster in fixed WiFi locations.”

Plans also include finding new ways to enter new geographic markets, 
starting with fixed WiFi and then with “transportation and edge 
connectivity”.

The combined companies will now have over 2,000 public hotspots across 
Kenya, with 500,000 users a month.

BRCK believes that the acquisition will go a long way towards 
supporting Africa’s technological evolution. 

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East Africa News

One US citizen, four Africans arrested by Kenyan Police for spying for Al-Shabaab

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Three men and two women have been arrested by Kenyan security forces for preparing a terror attack in Nairobi, a police report seen by AFP on Sunday showed.

The report stated that the group comprising three men — a US citizen, a Somali and their Kenyan driver — and two Somali women were believed to be on a reconnaissance mission for an attack in the north of the capital, the report dated Saturday said.

Police received information on Friday saying that “suspected terrorists” were carrying out a surveillance operation at a pub on Kiambu Road, a spot popular for its many bars and nightclubs.

Kenyan security forces have been on high alert since the Somali Al-Shabaab group, close to Al-Qaeda, stepped up attacks in the east of the country this month, threatening to target more Kenyan and US interests.

On January 5, the Somali Al-Shabaab group attacked Camp Simba, killing three Americans and destroying several aircraft and warning Kenya to withdraw its forces from Somalia while they still “have the chance”.

Kenya sent troops into Somalia in 2011 as part of an African Union peacekeeping mission fighting against Al-Shabaab, and has seen several brutal retaliation attacks both on its troops in Somalia and civilians in Kenya.

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Business

Tanzania goes digital to woo Chinese tourists

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Tanzania is going digital in its quest to attract more Chinese tourists to the country.

Addressing tourism players and investors in Arusha this past week, Tanzania’s ambassador to China, Mbelwa Kairuki says the country should meet Chinese tourists on its own turf-which is online.

 Kairuki says the embassy is creating an online booking platform specifically for promoting Tanzania’s tourism services in China, which will host a reservation and booking app, Chinese social media apps and offer marketing and advertising space. 

Tourism investors will be expected to pay for the platform for at least, six months.

China is more technologically advanced than Tanzania, although the government has banned WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter and developed its own unique platforms such as WeChat, Weibo and QQ.

WeChat, which is synced with financial and translation services, is China’s top social media platform.

Tanzanian companies will therefore be expected to have WeChat QR codes on the website.

All tourism players in Tanzania are expected to market themselves through the website.

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East Africa News

Ethiopia to hold parliamentary polls in May or June, PM Abiy

The election will be the first under Nobel Peace Laureate Abiy, who took office in April 2018 and launched political and economic reforms.

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Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed/Kfm

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Sunday that the country will hold a parliamentary election in May or June despite security and logistic concerns that his government is tackling.

The election will be the first under Nobel Peace Laureate Abiy, who took office in April 2018 and launched political and economic reforms.

His reform agenda has also stoked violence and highlighted ethnic divisions in the country of about 105 million people, and the election board said last June that the security situation could delay the 2020 election.

“On the schedule, I am not sure whether it is May or June, because the schedule will be declared by the election board but I think we will conduct an election this year because it is a constitutional mandate,” Abiy said in response to a question at a media briefing with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, a Reuters report said.

“There might be lots of challenges, not only logistics but also peace and security… It is better for Ethiopians and for Ethiopian parties to conduct the election on time in a very peaceful and democratic manner,” he said.

Ahmed is on an official state visit to South Africa. The two governments signed agreements to enhance cooperation, including on tourism and health.

Ethiopia has regularly held elections since 1995 but, with the exception of the 2005 election, no election has been competitive.

In the 2005 election, riots erupted after the opposition cried foul, security forces killed nearly 200 protesters, and the government jailed many opposition politicians.

Opposition politicians have warned against any delay in the election, and critics have said that postponing the vote could cause an adverse social reaction, fuel regional conflicts and damage Abiy’s democratic credentials.

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