Kutwa Tuesday: death of the cyber café

Once, long ago, I wrote a paper about a business case to put up a cyber café in an airport terminal – for transit passengers to browse there as they waited for the flight to connect. That model is in place today in airports all over the world (not my doing) but its’ time may already have passed with wi-fi zones and wireless laptops whose users don’t need to use cyber cafe facilities anymore.

But even cyber cafes’ that are in town may be under threat.

Until three months ago I’d spend about an hour in a cyber cafe each Saturday and Sunday. I’d go there to my check my-email and then browse quite a bit when I was done.

But all that has stopped as I now check my email and browse for information I need to know instantly – from hotmail, gmail, sports scores, stock prices – using a plain old phone (not bambanet, or blackberry) as the Safaricom EDGE service is available on most of their phones even some of the cheaper ones. I get the information wherever I am and don’t have to visit a cyber cafe unless it’s to print a document or download a PDF report.

Oil slick
The sale of Somken petrol stations to the National Oil Corporation of Kenya (NOCK) has been put on hold ever since the previous NOCK MD resigned from the company. Haggles remain over the high price bid for the stations.

BAT smoke-out
BAT Ghana has voluntarily de-listed from the Ghana Stock Exchange.

Does that portend anything for BAT Kenya one of the blue chip stocks on the Nairobi stock exchange and one of the highest paying dividend stocks? Cigarette smokers have had their smoking freedom curtailed in Nairobi and other urban areas (Nairobi city has less than a half dozen outdoor smoking points) making them clandestine smokers who hide on staircases and bathrooms (but at least most bars retain a smoking section). What impact will that have on sales?

BAT Kenya manufactures cigarettes here and exports a significant amount to other regional countries (who have not curtailed smoking) which should cushion it slightly from the new laws.

Stockbroker still frozen
The statutory management of Francis Thuo stockbrokers (by the Nairobi Stock Exchange) has been extended for another six months.

the pyramids that collapsed
Much has changed in the one year since nyramid schemes were highlighted here. Since then they have come under increasing pressure from the government, SACCO’s and most important the banks who frozen account necessary for their operations (and who probably still hold the schemes ‘missing billions’ that investors are crying for).

The latest collapse was Amity and it was preceded by Sasanet investment co-op (suspended operations), Spell investments (suspended operations), Circuit investments (suspended operations), CLIP (suspended operations), DECI (suspended operations), and the Kenya business community savings & credit society (Kenya akiba) (suspended operations)

Kenya news on Youtube
Some people say they are tired of political news, while others can’t get enough of it. But the Nation Media Group has gone ahead and made their new clips available on Youtube

Pesa point wins
Two yard ago Pesapoint was launched and it began a battle with Kenswitch – another network of banks sharing ATM facilities. But today Pesa Point has signed up most mid-size banks and have a network of almost 200 ATM machines – and last month added corporate banking giant Standard Chartered to their network.

10 thoughts on “Kutwa Tuesday: death of the cyber café

  1. E-Nyce

    Sijuicom’s EDGE service:

    • Why are Sijuicom’s tech pages written as if by a 5-year old? (That’s assuming that there’s actually a tech pages to be found.)

    • “Will Edge replace GPRS?”
    This question makes me scared for two reasons: (1) Why would a EDGE-enabled network remove GPRS?!? EDGE service should be implemented as priority on a data connection where reception is good or excellent quality, with fallback to GPRS for poorer reception. (2) Who would ask such a question? If it’s generated by someone within Sijuicom, beware: they may be considering to degrade the EDGE service by not offering GPRS as fallback. Which means if the reception is not at least “good”, no service.

    • “What handsets support EDGE? Click on the link below to view EDGE enabled handsets.”
    Link points to, supposedly, an internal page. That 5-year old is at it again…

    • “What speeds will be available via EDGE? Users can experience up to 128 kb/s however this will depend on the number of users connected at the time.”
    Yeah, good luck seeing this rate. I get 85 kb/s here in NYC on a good day, and on howardforums T-Mobile users report getting about 110, on average. You might slip by with higher speeds until more middle-class blokes start crowding the bandwidth.

    • “EDGE coverage…” link:
    That 5-year old is VERY mischievous…

    Everything else is mostly palatable.

    The price is very good, at least compared to a year ago. Overall, I think its reasonable. They may as well exploit the data usage limit NOW, because if any competitor wants to challenge the service they will either increase the limit or provide all-you-can-eat. Don’t worry, my friends, 300Mb allowance will not last long…

    banks, you’re obviously connecting your phone/PDA to your laptop to web-surf. How’s the connection reliability? Few or many dropped connections while surfing?


    Pesa point is a winner yes, but be very afraid, they can mess you up at times.

    there was a time i tried to withdraw 20k but then it told me that the network took too long to respond.
    but in its records, it reflected that i had withdrawn and the money was no longer in the account, it was friday evening, was travelling and that was the only money i had.

    my bank told me to sort out with pesa point. they finally did but not before chewing my 500 bob credit and engaging me in endless conversations.

    i shared with a friend who said a similar thing had happened but he dint know where to complain, fortunately, in the process, i alerted pesa point and he got his money too…..

    truth be told, pesa point helps but look out…

  3. Dropmyload

    I think Pesapoint is an excellent idea, and as far I know, only 4 banks have not yet signed up: Barclays, KCB, Coop and Equity.

    Given these 4 represent the bulk of the market, I think for Pesapoint to succeed, they need to at least snag one of the above.

  4. pesa tu

    The nyramids were bound to fail.they were pyramid schemes that masqueraded as Coops.To the people who lost money-Tough Luck u were warned.

    The sad thing is that even if i started one today i would still get thousands of subscribers.Once, you couch your scheme in religious tones a la DECI,Kenyans believe you aren’t a CON.

  5. Fedha

    Gecko: Greed is good.
    I say Pigs get slaughtered; thats the lesson to learn from the collapse of these easy money schemes.
    Although I must say after knocking down a few brews with Sasanet’s Mike C back in Dec, he demystified his operation and would have readily plunked down a few dollars but id just spent a small fortune purchasing a diggz so i passed.

  6. muthii fulani

    when gprs was introduced that sounded the death knell for cybers..though unlike me some internet users would prefer the cybercafe experience…i preferred to use the home solution of gprs to phone to PC…way more convenient from the comfort of the living room…speed and cost still are what keeps them open…3g and unlimited access on phone plans shall indeed have the cybers closing down…as you may have posted previously all you need now is a wifi enabled laptop, a mug of coffee at one of the java houses with free wifi or the mobil on the runs and you have fast internet access…i would take that option anytime! :o)

    how much do pesa point charge for withdrawals?

  7. acolyte

    I still think cybers have a long life ahead of them despite this competition. There are too many Kenyans without the tech savvy or the inclinations to use their phones instead of going to the cyber.

  8. Holy Cow

    Any phone with blutoothe connectivity is great for surfing via PC.Am waiting with bated breath for Safaricom’s 3g launch which is rumoured to be in December 2007.
    Talking of phones, there is a Nokia 6120 that supports HSPDA, thats the latest 3g technology. Sadly, been unable to find it locally.

  9. Biashara


    What do you think will be the effect of the “Battle of Tribes” aka “Kenyan Elections 2007” on the stock market and how can one reduce their exposure to political risk?

  10. bankelele

    E-Nyce: Nice word – Sijuicom, but ths site is flawed?

    REBECCA WANJIKU: sorry about that, I need to start checking my statments (but they come every 6 months) and ministatments carefuly. I usualy avoid pesa point (extra cost) unless I have no choice

    Dropmyload: However the ‘big 4’ banks in terms of ATM network, havingn invested so heavily are relucant to let others piggy bank on their network (for a fee perhaps?)

    pesa tu: they were so many, and people were so addciated. as you said, you can still open one today and have investors ready to give you cash (to recoup losses elsewhere!)

    Fedha: Greed is good – great movie (recently shown on Channel 2 here) – and they’re doing a remake!

    Muthii fulani: much more convenient, even though it is limited compared to being in a cyber
    – most banks charge customers 30/= if they withdraw through pesa point, though NBK charegs 40 and stanchart 50

    Acolyte: they still have a future, though as mobile suers get more savvy, I’d expect their revenue to stagnate

    Holy Cow: Safaricom silent on 3G, though December would not be a good month to launch (unless election-related features are included)

    Biashara; Tribes aside, I’m still buying shares

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