Category Archives: Cyber cafe series

Reflecting on the mobile internet in Kenya

After the past three weeks of focusing on cyber cafes and internet access in urban and rural Kenya, we’ve been questioning the value of the “mobile internet” statistics provided by operators to the CCK. Muchiri pointed out that since most of our feedback seemed to revolve more around SIM operated routers installed by cybers, or […]

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Postcard from Kajiado: Cheap chinese phones and the internet

It wasn’t the first time we’d heard this from a cyber cafe operator, but apparently the biggest challenge to mobile phone users wishing to get online by using their spanking new phones was whether they were a cheap Chinese phone or a fake.  Up and down Kenya, or right in the heart of Masai country […]

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Impact of mainstreaming and commodification of cyber cafe services

Around 2007, the urban cyber cafe industry began to display signs of maturing as the market saturated and the services specific to internet access underwent a process of commodification.  As it came to be perceived as no different a business than setting up a corner kiosk or hot dog stand, there was a shift in […]

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Innovation at the small enterprise level

I’ve never been left with such a strong sense of enterprise and innovative thinking as I have now after this past week in Coastal Kenya. In fact I asked Muchiri if he’d been specifying some high standards for the introductions made to various cyber cafe owners or was it that we just happened upon the […]

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Pondering the sustainability of the cyber cafe industry and its future

Jomo, who runs a traditional cyber cafe in an office building near Mombasa’s busy port district, gave us a well framed and articulate argument on the challenge of running a sustainable business given the costs involved.  His key point was that the internet providers, particularly the mobile operators now actively competing with conventional ISPs, were […]

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You’ll find me on Facebook

Peterson (in yellow) has just begun setting up the beachfront corner he and his colleagues maintain during the high season at Kilifi, next door to the Baobab beach resort. A few curio shacks, some local art, a massage and salon comprise their services to the expected influx of tourists taking a break from the winter […]

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Inserting tones into your iPod

Inserting tones i.e. Ipod – just the choice of words used to describe the service offered, that of downloading from iTunes seems to imply the order and popularity of the technologies introduced in this market i.e. contextual knowledge of the customer base. I’m not articulating this as well as I’d like but we’re going back […]

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VoIP centers in Old Mombasa

We saw this shopfront while following our friend Ahmed through the narrow gallis of Old Town. Wouldn’t you think it might be a cybercafe offering you a chance to go online? We did so too, but no, its a small room with a table top full of boxes and switches. He offers only VoIP based […]

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Socially networked mystery shopfront

We spotted this closed shopfront just before entering Mtwapa – a midsize town about 10km from Mombasa, when returning from a day trip north to Kilifi today. There was no signage to tell us whether it was a cyber cafe or internet center of some sort. But we’re sure they are extremely networked socially.

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21st century Kenyan

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