Kenya’s Kahenya Kamunyu is a techpreneur who has successfully carved a niche for himself in the PAY TV sector in his home country of Kenya.
In 2014, he was listed as one of Africa’s 15 tech entrepreneurs to watch by CNN for his internet-based content streaming startup, Able Wireless.
Kahenya’s innovation, Able Wireless, is a game changer which is challenging the big names within the Kenyan media streaming industry by offering the service for a fraction of the price the big names like DSTV, Ruku, Star Times, and Safaricom, which is the largest telecom company in East Africa, are charging.
Able Wireless provides entertainment content to Kenyans through streaming via the internet, which is done through a wireless network-based set-up box. Essentially, Able Wireless, which is a home-grown Netflix kind of service, is a low-cost video-on-demand (VOD) streaming service that uses a combination of a wireless router and an internet subscription to provide its service to Kenyans.
According to Kahenya Kamunyu, the innovation is a 100% locally built solution, with the only thing foreign being the equipment. Its ownership and management are all local.
The solution includes a Raspberry Pi-powered TV box and an internet connection. Set up for this is Kshs 2500 and monthly payments are Kshs 800 for an internet connection and media content streaming.
Initially scheduled to launch in 2014, the startup experienced several delays in securing approval and eventually launched in 2016 with a pilot for home internet in Ruaraka, Nairobi.
The monthly subscription-based streaming platform signed up more than 20,000 subscribers even before it launched. This obviously stemmed from its low cost and mass appeal.
It has been tagged as a disruptive business model within Kenya’s Pay TV services industry as it was seen as a service targeted at the masses. It cost KES. 800.00 ($6.80) a month and allowed virtually anyone, be it students or young home owners, to be able to afford unlimited video streaming over the internet as well as general internet access.
According to the founder, the diversity of the service and delivery mechanism, which is cheaper, stands it out from the pack of other providers, who interestingly have deep pockets. The Able Wireless solution is affordable by as much as 83 percent of Kenyans and this basically gives the startup leverage and advantage over the big guys.
Kahenya Kamunyu started off Able Wireless following his experience in technical and media companies in South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Kenya.
Speaking on what inspired the product, he revealed that he realised that there was no appropriate infrastructure to deliver both connectivity and content and that this essentially was why everything else had failed.
According to him, as against the government’s claim that there were 16 million internet users in Kenya, in reality, there were just about four, five, or six million. Even with the numbers, the country did not have any independent infrastructure to deliver content.
From his research, they found a way to go about it, and they went ahead to do it. He noted that there was a need for indigenous hands to get on board and do things rather than wait for foreign companies to come in and do things for them.
At the company’s inception, it was the very first indigenously owned company to deliver connectivity and media content for as low as 500 shillings a month.
The company has been able to build its own structure, which is independent of existing platforms in the country.
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