The technology modernising Kenya's matatus


Jonathan Kalan

Publication date: 

Monday, 7 October 2013


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External to ACUI

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Free wi-fi is becoming increasingly available on Nairobi's matatus. Matatus - the ramshackle public minibuses seating between 14 and 24 people that zip along the streets of Kenya's capital Nairobi - carry a third of the city's residents to and from work each day. The journey from the city centre to the working-class suburb of Rongai takes between 45 minutes and two hours, depending on traffic. Yet inside the "Ferguson" matatu - named for its colourful images of the former Manchester United manager - half a dozen passengers seem oblivious to the length of their commute. Instead, they sit glued to their smartphones, checking the latest news, YouTube videos and catching up on emails. Ferguson is one of more than 1,000 matatus in the city now equipped with free wi-fi for passengers to enjoy through a service called Vuma Online, launched this April by Safaricom, Kenya's biggest telecom company.