by Kevin Davids
Alphabet’s Balloon Internet Project Fails to Launch in Kenya
Alphabet’s ambitious balloon-powered internet project in Kenya is apparently being delayed by the regulatory issues. The project has not yet kicked off despite its inception two years ago.
ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru cites the laggard nature of Kenya’s bureaucracy process as the major hindrance.
“Everyone is working to get it there. We are 100 per cent behind it, we are just a bit slow in our bureaucracy,” said Joe Mucheru, an ardent supporter of the project.
Alphabet’s Loon project partnered with Telkom Kenya to enable the solar-powered balloons. These balloons are meant to provide 4G internet signals to unprivileged remote areas in the country.
To date, Loon has already set up three ground stations; Nairobi, Nakuru and Nyeri that paved the way for the final phase of testing.
“The start of the service will be greatly informed by the outcome of the pilot as well as the reception of regulatory approvals from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority and the Ministry of Transport, that we are currently waiting for,” said Telkom Kenya.
Loon’s spokesperson says they have been working with the government on the matter and expects that the whole process will be “finalized soon”.
The last update from the Loon project trickled last year when some balloons were expected to land in the country for initial commercial trials.
Late 2019, Loon acquired a license in Uganda to fly its balloons over the country’s stratosphere.