RealTime IT News

Barclays, AfricaOnline Alliance Sets Stage For African Internet Boom

[Nairobi, KENYA] Internet service provider AfricaOnline and Barclays Africa on Wednesday announced an alliance that will see the two companies form a common brand geared towards expanding Internet penetration in Sub-Saharan Africa. The two companies, with a combined sub-Saharan presence in 12 African countries, will form a powerful alliance extending the trend towards convergence in the Internet and financial sectors to the African continent.

According to AfricaOnline Holdings, the two companies will initially focus on Kenya, rolling out three 'Internet centers' in September and October under a new brand. Once this has been successfully implemented, operations will extend to the other 11 countries in which the partners have influence; Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Uganda, Botswana, Zambia, Namibia, Swaziland, Mauritius, Ghana, the Seychelles, and the Ivory Coast.

Neither company has yet revealed the final form of the joint operation nor its planned method of operation. Indications are, however, that AfricaOnline, who has already established a number of Internet centers under the 'eTouch' brand, will adapt this technology for use in metropolitan areas in which Barclays operates. Barclays currently operates 250 branches within the 12 countries which could also provide the initial infrastructure for the Internet centers.

The UK-based Barclays plc Corporation has been looking to expand its investment in e-commerce and Internet services throughout its base of international operations, but this is the first substantial investment by the group in its African operations. Barclays Africa Chief Executive Dominic Bruynseels commented that the alliance partners will be looking to lever off the technological developments in the sub-Saharan region and exploit the associated customer benefits as appropriate to the African environment.

AfricaOnline is backed by African Lakes Corporation plc, a company listed in both Nairobi and London with an equity interest in the ISP equivalent to 65 percent. African Lakes has a threefold plan for the region that encompasses the development of Internet services, the extension of regional information and communications technology and investment in the African automotive industry.