Ms Dorcas Muthoni at work in her office. Many Kenyans are opting to study and work online to save costs as more homes are connected to the Internet through fibre-optic cables. Photo/File
Studying or working from home is steadily picking up in Kenya, thanks to improvements in telecommunication infrastructure provided by fibre optic connectivity.
The trend is gaining traction among doctors, legal professionals, music producers who are looking at cutting travel expenses or enjoying quality time with their families.
Students have also turned to pursuing university studies online from the comfort of their homes, cutting travel and accommodation expenses.
Acacia Aggarwal is among the young Kenyans taking the advantage of the improved telecommunication infrastructure provided by both the undersea and terrestrial fibre optic connectivity to study from home.
The 18-year-old who lives in Nyari estate, Nairobi, is pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the Swiss Management Centre and a Computer Science 101 course from Stanford University in the United States.
Her studies have been made possible after her father, Neal Aggarwal, a doctor and an IT expert in software writing, got a connection of 10 megabytes of fibre to his home from Jamii Telecoms Ltd at cost of Sh10,000 per month.
Previously, Dr Aggarwal says his family accessed Internet through wireless Internet technologies such as modems whose speeds were never guaranteed and as a result limited his operations, since his work involves transferring heavy files.
“I spend almost 16 hours a day on Internet and my work involves lots of research, therefore, to me, guaranteed speeds and reliable connectivity comes first,” he said.
Kenya currently has four undersea fibre optic cables: Seacom, Eassy , TEAMs and LION, which link the country to the outside world and have cut reliance on the use of satellite technology whose quality is poor compared to that of fibre. The cables have also helped reduce costs.
Before June 2008, when the country got its first undersea cable connectivity, it relied solely on satellite at a cost of between $4,500 (Sh373,500) to $5,000 (Sh415,000) for a megabyte per month but the cost has now come down to as low as $500 (41,500) per month for the same capacity on the undersea fibre connectivity.
This together with inland fibre connections provided by operators such as Telkom Kenya, Jamii, AccessKenya, Kenya Data Networks and the Wananchi Group have provided ground for clients to connect their homes and interact with others from any part of the world.
“What we now need is a reliable power supply and majority of those who want to pursue their higher education can now do it online,” said Ms Aggarwal.
Betty Kiplangat, a legal consultant, says the fibre-to-home connection has made it possible for her to work from her home in Karen, Nairobi.
“I handle legal consultancy work for firms based in Burkina Faso, South Africa, Mexico and Italy,” she says.
“With the right connection I am now able to do Skype, telephone conference and transfer large files while working from home which has given me ample time with my family and which is my greatest joy.”