PARTNER FEATURE: This is the story about The RuralStar a revolutionary mobile base station that has transformed the lives of the people of remote village in Kenya.
360 kilometers from Nairobi, Kenya, there is a village named Duse. Duse is home to an estimated population of 2,000 people, who are mostly pastoralists while others are involved in small-scale mining and agriculture.
For many years, Duse lacked infrastructure and development that hindered its growth. Access to basic services and amenities were a major challenge. Communication and connectivity is a critical component to stimulate socio-economic development of any population, yet nearly 30 years after the first cell phone tower was put up in Kenya, Duse remains unconnected to the world.
Providing rural connectivity is particularly challenging due to the small and disparate populations spread over large areas. This makes investment in communications infrastructure uneconomical and takes a long time to build. Recognizing these challenges, but the potential benefits if they can be solved, Huawei partnered with Safaricom to develop an innovative new solution to address the critical need for internet connectivity in Duse.
The solution uses both design and technology innovations to reduce set-up costs, running costs and be more environmentally friendly whilst providing both 2G voice and text message as well as 3G broadband internet to users.
The RuralStar Solution has enabled the literal overnight socio-economic transformation of Duse. Access to voice, data, sms, M-PESA and high speed internet network catalyzed the rapid growth and convenience of essential services such as health, education as well as enhanced security.
The communication technology has enhanced access and eased provision of health services. “Now it is easy to access medicine because I just make a call. If I have an emergency and I don’t have a particular medicine, I just need to call someone in Kina and tell them to deliver the medicine. Before, it was not possible to do so.” Said Fatima, a nurse in Duse Dispensary.
Now the school administration can better align with government agencies. In the digital age, teachers and students can access e-learning at their fingertips. They regularly watch educational videos online.
“This internet has assisted us so much, because our teachers can now access the internet for more information that will assist in teaching and learning. “ Mohammed Somo, the Head teacher at Duse Primary.
TRADING & COMMERCE
“Previously, people had a lot of problems, imagine you want to withdraw Ksh.1000 from M-PESA, and you travel for 18 kilometers to withdraw Ksh.1000 in Kina, so you have to board a motorcycle for Ksh.500 and the same amount to come back. So you remain with nothing. Now, it has brought about M-PESA which was not there before. Whenever people receive money, they just come here, withdraw the money and they buy things from this area and they go back to their nomadic life.” Said Abdi Jirma Susuka, the M-PESA agent in Duse.
PRODUCTS & SERVICES
The communication technology has enabled facilitate the locals with products and services, cutting out travel distances and costs that were being incurred.
“Before we used to go for shopping in Meru, we should spend a lot of money on bus fare. But now we just call someone and order for what we want then send the money and it is a very easy and fast process.” Said Abduba Hassan, a barber in Duse.
The Internet bring about a speedy, better and enhanced communication between security agencies. “When there is cattle rustling and we want to report the authorities, we had to walk about 6 to 7 kilometers to get help. But now, in case of emergency we just call the authorities and tell them our problem, and we get intervention. ”said Daudi Halake, the Chief of Duse location
Now, the Ruralstar has brought better life to Duse, with an average of 600 users accessing connectivity daily.
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