This comes as a major boost to the government initiative that aims to make available one million computers to university students.
The partnership with Equity Bank was signed by Orange CEO Mickael Ghossein and Dr James Mwangi, Equity Bank CEO, in Nairobi. Dr Mwangi is also the Chairman of Kenya’s Vision 2030 Delivery Board.
Customers will identify the device, apply for a loan and once approved, will take possession of the device and then repay the bank in easy instalments over 12 months.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Ghossein said the availability of affordable devices has been a hurdle for many Kenyans and the deal would bring to an end the impediment. “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% of the Kenyan households have a computer while 63.2% cent of households own at least a mobile phone. In our estimation the ownership of mobile phones with internet access could be much lower”, he added.
Dr Mwangi said Equity Bank, with branches all over the country, would provide 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 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.
Orange has taken several measures to increase broadband 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 Sh1 per MB, a few weeks after slashing its call rates by more than half.
In addition, Orange subscribers are set to benefit from an even more reliable broadband connection after France Telecom-Orange signed an agreement for a new submarine cable in the Indian Ocean.
From BRIAN ADERO in Nairobi, Kenya