Saturday, February 17, 2007

Cyber Cafe with an EDGE

Followed up from Laying the Groundwork for a rural cyber

I've finally got around to writing this. Thanks for you all who patiently waited.

Although I approached the project as an "internet consultant", I soon realised I would need to implement the whole spectrum of tasks required to get the cyber running. I spent almost a week laying the structured cabling, installing the software, and configuring the network. Most of the work I was doing for the first time (e.g. drilling holes in concrete to fix the trunking screws) and most of it was hard, but all of it was enjoyable. I needed to prove the project was implementable with minimal human resources (if it was going to work elsewhere). With an eye on both troubleshooting by the owner and future projects I prepared detailed How To manuals for most of the tasks.

So the day finally arrived, November 17th I connected all the PCs to the internet. The results were incredible, the speeds were nearly as good as my 256K broadband connection in Nairobi. I tested each PC individually and was happy to see similar results. The PCs are Pentium III (666 Mhz ) Compaqs with 128K memory, purchased refurbished for about KSh. 12,500 ($178.50) and running Windows XP.

The real test though would be to see how the Internet would behave in "live" conditions, with actual customers paying for the service. I didn't have to wait long, the next day the cyber was open to the public and soon a trickle of customers came inquiring. I advised the owner to initially charge KShs. 3.00 per minute ($ 2.57/hr) and gauge the response. Not surprisingly the customers complained that the charges were high, but the amazing thing is that once they got online they were delighted by the speeds which they said were fast. At one point there were five people browsing and worried that the speeds might suffer I went around the cyber and did a spot check. I was relieved to see however that the technology held up and all the customers were browsing without a problem.

The first day was over, the cyber had passed the test, internet had reached the village. What followed thereafter was an enlightment as inquiries and comments from customers, curious onlookers and suppliers made me realise that there was potential for a lot more opportunities. Read about these insights in my next post.

38 comments:

Hoseah said...

Karanja,
This sounds like a great experience. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing your hardwork pay off. I commend you for bring internet to the village.

Erick said...

Good job on the connectivity. The PCs were Pentium III (666 Mhz ) Compaqs with 128K memory, running Windows XP? I always thought such computers would be sloooww.

George said...

I heard Safcom were seting up a 3.5G HSPDA network faster than EDGE in Nairobi is it running?

startupkenya said...

George: I haven't yet heard about the HSPDA, but WIMAX seems to be all the rage now. Two firms, Instaconnect and UUnet have begun offering solutions on WIMAX. Looks like personal wireless data solutions are going to explode this year

Anonymous said...

good ideas running around. kudos kibaki's government.

PETER said...

Good Job Karanja and some great experience there.Could be more specific about the implementation, especially on the ISP used , the charges and whether the cyber is profitable and sustainable in the long run?

eric said...

Bravo Karanja. Great job that you deed over there; the results speak volumes.

eric said...

I intend to set up a cyber cafe in Nairobi(city center). I work as an IT trainer in a college but i'm novice about running a cyber cafe. What will it take guys?

Anonymous said...

hello.. My name is alok and I am from india. I'd like to introduce a very useful, very easy to use and user friendly software for managment of cyber(internet) cafe' available at the lowest possible price tag.
Should you please visit our home-page at

http://www.stechsoft.blogspot.com

If interested, let me know through the email alok_prn2003@rediffmail.com

thanks

Timona said...

Where do you buy the refurbished computers in Kenya?

I am interested in starting a cyber cafe.

startupkenya said...

I've found Davetech Kenya on Biashara Street Nairobi to the most affordable and reliable when it comes to purchasing refurbished computers.

If you are buying for a school, there is a firm that calls itself Baobab Communications that sells refurbished computers at a discounted rate. Unfortunately I do not have the contact details for Baobab at this time.

Anonymous said...

Be careful when buying second hand computers-mainly laptops. My office was broken into and the computer was stolen. It was found at Davetech.

Martinez said...

Am considering starting up a cyber cafe of about 11 computer.What would be the estimated cost to start operation

Raphael said...

Hi. Everyone. My name is Raphael (Computer technician in Nairobi)
cyber café business in Kenya is booming. ... Question, is the installed program working ok? 4 your cyber?. Erick was right The Pentium III (666 MHz) with 128K memory, will be slow running win xp After awhile. But Linux is perfect for those, windows 2000 or 98 are good as well.
Is your program Genuine? This are some of the things your need to consider while setting up a cyber.
I'd like to introduce Zenwalk Linux software its easy to use and user friendly for cyber(internet) cafe' because it has timer embedded on it.(Zencafe) .email: rapho@linuxmail.org for more.
I Also give out Ubuntu disk for free just contact me on the above mail and we are home and dry.
Recently, more and more enterprises and public institutions in Kenya move not only the servers but also the desktops to Linux.
About refurbish in Kenya ..There are this Guys who are genuine by there products Called CYBER KIDS they recently moved to Gilfillan House along Kenyatta ave. next to I & M, they have good price call the manager on 0202046858 .

Anonymous said...

Hi. Everyone. My name is Raphael (Computer technician in Nairobi)
cyber café business in Kenya is booming. Question, is the installed program working ok? 4 your cyber?. Erick was right The Pentium III (666 Mhz ) with 128K memory, will be slow running win xp After awhile. But Linux is perfect for those , windows 2000 or 98 are good as well .
Is your program Genuine? This are some of the things your need to consider while setting up a cyber.
I'd like to introduce Zencafé from Zenwalk Linux software its easy to use and user friendly for cyber(internet) cafe' .email rapho@linuxmail.org for more.
I Also give out Ubuntu disk for free just contact me on the above mail and were home and dry.
Recently, more and more enterprises and public institutions in Kenya move not only the servers but also the desktops to Linux.
About refurbish in Kenya ..There are this Guys who are genuine by there products Called CYBER KIDS they recently moved to Gilfillan House along Kenyatta ave. next to I & m, they have good price call the manager on 0202046858 .

Anonymous said...

What are the taxes involved when running a cyber?

Anonymous said...

am a techor ie an can provide internet solutions all over the country for more info contact me on skimataifa@yahoo.com or visit www.telsatafrica.com

0202383954

Anonymous said...

hi am mike trying out suse linux 10.0 on one of the several pc's in my cyber. if it works well i can do a change over from win.

anyone with this suse linux tips???

Samuel Njoroge said...

Im a very busy accountant. I need a qualified lady attendant to manage my cybercafe in CBD Nairobi. Must be proficient in N+ and A+ and very quick at troubleshooting for 25 computers. email samuelofafrica@yahoo.co.uk

bree said...

hi there, i have powerful software for teaching kids computers at home during weekends and holidays.are u interested?
Please write to me at breengomez@gmail.com

Justin said...

Hello All,

I work for a VoIP company in the US and we provide great call shop/cyber cafe VoIP solutions in Africa.

If you're interested please email me at Ads@talkfree.com or check out our website - http://www.talkfree.com

karanja said...

Hey Karanja,
I am writing a master thesis on cyber cafe software and i would really like to get some insights from you. Please get in touch if you are interested.Thanks
Karanja

phil said...

Dear Sir or Madame,
Who is using the cyber cafes in Kenya? I work for a religious internet site and I exchange email with many Kenyans who are using internet. Largely I give advice regarding family relationships. In order to assist the people I hear from, it would be helpful to know if the people e-mailing are largely urban or rural farmers. Are they largely comparatively middle-class?

Any info or opinions would be helpful.
Brandiatanaka@hotmail.com

thank you.

Anonymous said...

Karanja,

I am trying to set up an Internet Cafe in rural Nicaragua and your experiences may provide some valuable insight into my project. Please let me know if you can help out in any way (advice or business plan pointers).

reach me at:
daniel.halper2@gmail.com

Chege said...

Hi, I have this lucrative idea for cyber cafes in Kenya that will greatly improve earnings by tens or hundreds of THOUSANDS of Shillings monthly or even weekly! Are you interested?

Watch a short movie clip that explains my idea, its FREE to start! Visit http//website.ws/thewarrior to watch it, then sign up on the same site to get started FREE right away!

PS: It doesnt matter if you have a website already.

kaka said...

Hey...if you are looking for a reliable internet service with guaranteed fibre speeds and no downtime around nairobi for your cyber cafe, home or office use kindly contact the following email address kaka.communications@gmail.com
I will forward you the proposal. Thanks

Anonymous said...

yo am plannin to start up a cyber in one of the estate in the eastlands if some one has a good i dea on how to get some good computers hit me on my email dtettm@gmail.com

Caffeene said...

Thank you for sharing! You may be able to help with free software to run the cybers. Try http://www.cybercafepro.com for an easy option.

marry said...

Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!
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justus said...

hallo every one,
i am an enterpreneur who want to set up a cyber with about 10 computers. can you help me get the mathematics of what i will require for the start up. everything please

kit said...

I need to set up a cyber cafe in a rural set up could some one please give me the fine and feasibility study on cyber cafe in western Kenya
Reach me on ashupretty@gmail.com

Job said...

I need to set up a cyber cafe in a rural set up but in one area that has proved to be business savvy.Could some one please give me the cash outlay to be met in starting this venture.
i can be reached via address:jobmwas@yahoo.com

mucheru said...

the cyber idea is good, but how to choose a reliable and fast ISP from all the providers out there is proving hard. any insight guys. n what about the fear about the charges falling further still. amskyking@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Hi my name is Simon Githinji, I own and have been running a cyber for the last over 3o months. My business though situated in an estate, has run successfully and profitably having began from just one computer to now about 18 all Pentium 4 with good speed. I have great and reliable skills/experience in setting cybers both the interiors and the advertisement element (I have good networks to facilitate advertisement of your business) at your request.

I buy and sell computers and hence can I also offer the budgeting aspect of a cyber including the list of all the requirement..... for more details you can reach me on gikabiag@yahoo.com

Simon said...

Hi my name is Simon Githinji, I own and have been running a cyber for the last over 3o months. My business though situated in an estate, has run successfully and profitably having began from just one computer to now about 18 all Pentium 4 with good speed. I have great and reliable skills/experience in setting cybers both the interiors and the advertisement element (I have good networks to facilitate advertisement of your business) at your request.

I buy and sell computers and hence can I also offer the budgeting aspect of a cyber including the list of all the requirement..... for more details you can reach me on gikabiag@yahoo.com

Kyle said...

YEA MON

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