When AIM decided to set up regional offices in Africa, we recognised that good communications links would be important to their function; so we specified that offices would need to have reliable high speed internet connections. My experiences over the last couple of days have demonstrated that 'high speed internet' is definitely a relative term…
Kenyan telephone lines, where they haven't been cut down and sold by an enterprising local, are notoriously noisy and unreliable so dial-up internet access via a landline is almost a complete non starter so many people do email via mobile phones. Web access isn't really practical unless one pays for a link to a wireless internet service provider.
The regional office I have been working with over these last few days knew that even the wireless ISPs are often not working and decided to go for a reliable option – satellite internet. For about £1000 a company came and set them up with a 1.5m dish and a satellite modem. Now they pay about £80 a month for a 'guaranteed' 64kbps connection limited to 1GB total traffic each month. For the non-techies that's just slightly faster than a dial up link in the UK and about 100th of the speed of the broadband connection I have at home for less than £20 a month.
Next time you complain about your connection speed, be glad you don't live in Nairobi and pray for us as we try to work out how we can get our secure web based personnel placement application to work over this kind of connection. Currently it takes at least two minutes to bring up some pages! The alternative is to move the office to another country.