The Launched of BILAWAYA in April 2015, Swahili slang meaning for WIRELESS, this wifi network is covering about 10-kilometre radius from Nakuru Central Business District (CBD). It has a capacity of a Giga byte per second (gbps), and it is available in major streets, markets area, transport terminus and stadia, as well as the university campuses in town.
Nakuru wifi project is the first of its kind in Kenya. And the project sees Nakuru grouped together with Kigali in Rwanda, and Tshwane in South Africa, as the first major urban centre in Africa to benefit access to free public wifi.
Dennis Itumbi, Director of Digital Communications in the Office of the President of The Republic of Kenya, said “This network is a first for our country and has far exceeded our expectations. Every day I see how it is changing lives for the better. Our people are hungry for digital access and all the knowledge that brings. We will be extending the network to the second and third biggest towns in Nakuru County – and indeed to other Counties – very shortly.”
Bilawaya is accelerating business growth in The County of Nakuru, and enabling its gradual evolution towards an information economy according to Town Business community. The portal complements this through increased access to marketplaces, training, customers, staff and resources as well as access to useful services, from accounting, advertising to marketing.
So far the project provides people with wifi-enabled devices for free access to the Internet. Though, with exception of unlawful activities, such as streaming or downloading of offensive content which includes content, that violates copyright. A portal has been created to provide a wealth of important and useful advice for Internet novices as well as the more experienced.
Recently Liquid Telecom and the Office of the President (Kenya) picked up the award in the Changing Lives category for providing free wifi to homes and businesses in Nakuru County in the annual AfricaCom awards that took place in Cape Town 19th of Nevember, 2015
It was a special award to recognize an inspiring initiative that has significantly impacted lives in the local community. African communications community has importantly contributed to economic and social development. It was one the most hotly contested category in 2015. The work of ten companies was shortlisted; this companied included Ericsson, Orange and WIOCC.
Ben Roberts, CEO of Liquid Telecom Kenya, said “Congratulations to the President and all of his team who spearheaded the Bilawaya project in Nakuru. Every day we see for ourselves how it is Changing Lives.”
The positive response to the free wifi network has triggered demand for wifi services across Kenya. Liquid telecom has already been approached by more county Governments to implement a similar project after hearing of the success and popularity of Bilawaya.
Meanwhile, the Nakuru County Government to extend the network to other areas within the County to meet demand. Plans are at an advanced stage to connect Naivasha and Gilgil towns as well as Egerton University in Njoro campus, and to more streets and public areas in Nakuru town.
Nakuru is a market town, with a population of 307,000. Farming is the main industry and unemployment is high and graduation mostly migrate to Nairobi for opportunities..