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[New Podcast] A Conversation with CEO Farouk Ramji on the Evolution & Growth of Mawingu In Kenya’s Internet Services Market.

In this edition of the Pure Digital Passion podcast, I had the pleasure of having a quick catchup with Farouk Ramji, the CEO of Mawingu, Kenya’s largest ISP dedicated exclusively to rural and peri-urban markets. 

Our last conversation was in October 2022, and since then, Mawingu has experienced remarkable growth and transformation. Here’s a summary of our discussion about Mawingu’s journey and future plans: 

A New Home Base

One of the first things Farouk and I discussed was their brand new office at ABC Place in Westlands, Nairobi. This move marks a significant upgrade from their previous co-working space, reflecting the company’s growth and increased workforce. 

Following a Series B equity round of $9 million closed in January 2023, Mawingu has expanded to 28 counties, serving nearly 20,000 active subscribers with a dedicated team of 200 people.

Expanding Network and Reach

Farouk highlighted the aggressive network rollout in 2023, which saw Mawingu expanding from 11 to 28 counties. The challenge now lies in acquiring the necessary capacity to continue this growth, especially in areas like Mandera. Despite these hurdles, Mawingu remains focused on its mission to provide affordable internet access to underserved regions.

Strategic Positioning and Competition

Mawingu’s strategy has always been to target underserved markets, avoiding direct competition with major players. By employing versatile technology — wireless, fibre, and green-energy solutions — they can adapt to varying terrain and market conditions. This approach allows them to offer competitive pricing and high-quality service, differentiating themselves from both large mobile network operators and smaller unlicensed resellers.

Fibre Technology and Future Plans

The transition to fibre technology is a key part of Mawingu’s strategy. In markets like Nyeri, they have already deployed extensive fibre networks, offering superior quality and reliability compared to wireless solutions. By the end of 2024, they aim for 8% of their subscriber base to be on fibre, with plans to grow this into double digits.

Community Impact with Mawingu.org

A key initiative from our conversation is Mawingu.org, a community-focused program aimed at connecting schools and other institutions in underserved areas. 

There are over 150 schools connected and this initiative provides affordable internet that transforms education and opens up new opportunities for students and teachers alike. 

Supported by grant funding from Microsoft, Mawingu.org is set to expand further, connecting 50 to 100 schools in each operational county.

Financial Sustainability and Future Expansion

Farouk proudly shared that Mawingu is not only performing well in Kenya but is also financially sustainable, with positive unit economics and cash flow. This strong foundation sets the stage for potential expansion beyond Kenya, replicating their successful model in other regions.

Conclusion 

Mawingu’s journey from a small Internet Service Provider (ISP) in Nanyuki to a major player in Kenya’s internet landscape is a reflection of their innovative approach and commitment to serving underserved markets. 

As they continue to grow and expand, their impact on communities and the broader digital landscape in Kenya is undeniable. It was a pleasure to catch up with Farouk and hear about the exciting developments at Mawingu. 

Listen To The Audio Podcast Below: 

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