Kenya’s government has finally approved the roll out of the Google Loon project developed in conjunction with Telkom Kenya.
The approval comes at a time where the country has encouraged its citizens to work from home amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The project had stalled, having had to wait for the go-ahead from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA).
The country’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has now confirmed approval. “To foster communication and enable Kenyans to retain an enhanced remote access to their offices and enterprises my administration has granted approvals that will ensure the universal 4G data coverage is available throughout our country,” said Kenyatta.
The services will provide connectivity areas under-served or neglected by major telecom and internet service providers.
“I am pleased to announce that the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority has signed an agreement with Google Loon in order to allow Loon balloons to fly over Kenyan airspace,” Kenyatta added. “These balloons which will hover well above our commercial airspace will carry 4G base stations and have the capacity to provide wider signal coverage.”
According to Loon, the balloons will hover at “the edge of space” 20Km in the stratosphere.
The company had already set up its base station in Nyeri, Kenya in February 2019 in anticipation of its much-awaited launch.
For Telkom Kenya, this is a major boost to its internet network a week after it welcomed one of Kenya’s biggest capacity undersea cable, Djibouti Africa Region Express 1 (DARE1) in partnership with Djibouti Telkom.
The President added that the Loon service will also enable other sectors to thrive, including e-learning, telemedicine and surveillance.
Last week, Safaricom doubled internet speeds for its fibre network subscribers for 90 days to support remote workers as the country’s work from home order is enforced.
Kenyatta said more measures would be introduced in the coming days to support and reinforce the economy during these difficult circumstances.