Poa Internet secures $28 million in a Series C funding round led by Africa50, bringing the total amount it has raised to date to $36 million.
This is happening just over a year after the internet service provider (ISP) won the innovation challenge hosted by Africa50 backed by AfDB Group in 2020.
Participating in the latest round was Novastar Ventures, one of the earliest backers of the firm.
Poa intends to use the new funds to expand its reach, starting with Kenya and then expanding to other African countries.
“At the moment, we’re concentrating on Kenya, but the problem we’re addressing is one that affects the entire continent. And it’s not just about getting people connected for us.”
We intend to bring a lot of people online and to provide them a meaningful internet experience such as the ability to stream videos, without worrying about how much data they’re consuming,” Poa Internet’s co-founder and CEO, Andy Halsall, told TechCrunch.
Poa Internet now has over 12,000 clients (homes and small businesses) in Nairobi’s low- and middle-income districts, with tens of thousands more using its street Wi-Fi connections.
Safaricom Home by East Africa’s biggest telecom Safaricom, Faiba by Jamii Telecommunication Limited, and Zuku have built their fiber networks in areas that are normally not the main target markets for their competitors.
Poa Internet charges a monthly subscription of around $13, which is 50% of the market pricing, providing it a competitive advantage.
Its subscribers also get unlimited data consumption, which is another feature that appeals to internet users in a country where big ISPs offer monthly subscription bundles with data limits.
The company has also put up Wi-Fi hotspots in public spaces, where customers pay $0.18 for 1 GB of data, which is 10 times less than what the country’s telecoms charge for a similar non-expiring internet bundle.
“Our internet speeds are 4 mbps, which is sufficient for video streaming, as everyone wants to watch Netflix, use YouTube, download movies, and make video calls.”
“As a result, we’ve designed our service to be quick enough to deliver video, but most importantly, our price is a selling point,” Halsall explained.
“Our primary goal is to keep the price as cheap as possible while operating in areas where fiber access is either unavailable or unlikely to be available.”
“As a result, we won’t be competing against anyone because we’ll be targeting a market segment that is underserved.”
Affordability remains one of the most significant barriers to internet access across the continent, and Poa Internet has been working to address this puzzle from its inception in Kenya in 2015.
The advantages of affordable data and a more connected continent are enormous because as more people become connected, sectors like e-commerce and e-learning will boom.
Currently, Africa50 has 31 shareholders, including the AfDB, the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO), Bank Al-Maghrib (the Central Bank of the Kingdom of Morocco), and 28 African countries.
“Increasing access to reliable and affordable internet connectivity is strongly aligned with the key pillars of Africa50’s strategy, and we are happy to be part of this high impact journey and to support Poa’s growth in Africa,” said Africa50 managing director and head of infrastructure investments at Africa50, Raza Hasnani.