President Uhuru Kenyatta’s project to provide internet connectivity in the country is in doubt after Google’s Loon Project was shut down.
The announcement was made by tech expert Astro Teller who is in charge of the project that was under Google’s parent company, Alphabet. The project was undertaken in partnership with the Ministry of ICT and Telkom Kenya.
The high-altitude stratospheric balloon provides internet access by establishing an aerial wireless network that registered speeds of up to 1 Mbps.
The company noted that the project was no longer commercially viable, adding that the exit was already in progress.
“A small group of the Google Loon team will stay to ensure Loon’s operations are wrapped up smoothly and safely – this includes winding down Loon’s pilot service in Kenya,” Teller announced on Friday, January 22.
Loon launched its first commercial internet service in Kenya in July 2020, consisting of about 35 balloons that covered an area of around 50,000 square kilometers.
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President Kenyatta was keen on the loon project and was hopeful that it would enable Kenya to retain her competitive advantages in ICT and innovation.
“In that regard, and to foster communication and enable Kenyans to retain and enhance remote access to the offices and enterprises, my administration has granted approvals that will ensure universal 4G data coverage throughout Kenya,” President Kenyatta said.
Teller thanked Kenya for providing the opportunity to offer its innovation and internet connectivity through the Loon Project.
“Although Loon is going away, our commitment to connectivity isn’t. Today we’re pledging a fund of Ksh1 billion to support nonprofits and businesses focussed on connectivity, internet, entrepreneurship, and education in Kenya,” Teller added.