Orange Kenya, and Equity Bank have today launched an initiative that aims to avail One Million Computers to university students.

The partnership Equity Bank was signed by the Orange CEO Mickael Ghossein and Dr. James Mwangi the Equity Bank CEO in Nairobi.

The move will see Orange sell internet-enabled phones and computers within Equity Bank branches countrywide, and the bank will extend a credit facility to customers willing to spend on the same.

Customers will identify the device to acquire, apply for a loan and once approved, will take possession of the device and then repay the bank in easy installments spread throughout a period of one year.

Speaking at the event, Mr Ghossein said  “Growth in data access requires a threefold approach targeting availability of bandwidth, affordable devices and reasonable pricing”, he said.

“There are slightly over three million internet users in Kenya and over 20 million mobile subscribers. According to the recent Census report, a paltry 3.6 per cent of the Kenyan households have a computer while 63.2 per cent of households own at least a mobile phone. In our estimation the ownership of mobile phones with internet access could be much lower”, said the Orange CEO.

Ghossein said  that Orange was taking several measures to increase the speed and number of internet users, through its various products already in the market. Last week, the company launched a mobile internet service that costs a Sh 1 per MB, a few weeks after slashing its calling cost by more than half.

In addition, Orange signed an agreement for a new submarine cable in the Indian Ocean recently.

The 3,000 km-long LION2 cable will extend the LION cable to Kenya via the island of Mayotte. The construction of the LION2 cable represents a total investment of around 56.5 million euros. About 31.25 million euros will come from France Telecom SA.
This in additional to the 4,000 kilometres of cable laid in Kenya.

Equity Bank’s Chief Executive Officer Dr James Mwangi said the Bank, with branches all over the country, would avail affordable and flexible credit terms so that more Kenyans can access the laptops and hence bridge the digital divide especially in the rural areas.

Equity Bank is one of the leading institutions in the region and holds the highest number of accounts in the region with over 5.7 million bank accounts.

“I am challenging Kenyans and especially the academic fraternity to take advantage of the arrival of the submarine fibre optic cables to spearhead innovation in ICT and create more employment opportunities for Kenyans entering the job market every year,” Dr Mwangi said.

“The academic fraternity is a key plank in driving a knowledge-based economy to improve national prosperity and Kenya’s global competitiveness. We hope teachers, students and the youth including business people will take advantage of this offer.This partnership will further our progress towards attaining our country’s vision of being a middle income economy by 2030,” Dr Mwangi said.

The ICT sector is a major contributor to Kenya’s GDP, and has the potential to employ thousands of Kenyans hence contributing significantly to poverty reduction. Dr James Mwangi is also the Chairman of Kenya’s Vision 2030 Delivery Board.