ICT4D Professional Profile: Riyaz Bachani

The ICT4D thought leader that I profiled is Riyaz Bachani.  Mr. Bachani was educated at MIT, where he was involved with the schools IT consulting team, as well as their Network Security Team.  Upon graduation, Mr. Bachani returned to Kenya to work with Kenya Data Networks, in which he worked to design and implement the largest national wireless high-speed data network in the country.  Currently this network is being used by all major banks, ISPs and corporate offices in Kenya.  After this project, Mr. Bachani worked with Terracom Ltd, in which he managed the acquisition of the Rwandan National Telecommunications company.  Currently, Mr. Bachani is the CTO with Wananchi Group in Kenya.  In his current position he works to design and implement a cable triple play network, which provides television, internet and voice services to its users.  The service, known as Zuku, is the first of its kind in Africa.

Mr. Bachani is also a co-founder of Skunkworks, a group that works to untie ICT driven minds in Kenya.  This service works to create discussion among its members, as well as providing information about ICTs as well as opportunities and event for those interested.  Along with this, Mr. Bachani is an adviser at iHub.  iHub is located in Nairobi and provides a space and resources for technology driven individuals to experiment, conglomerate and develop new technologies.

Riyaz Bachani’s current project with the Wananchi Group is the development of a “Wazi Wi-Fi” pilot program.  In this system, a wireless network is purchased by a company or organization housed in a public area, such as a mall or airport.  Two wireless networks are set up, a private one for employees to use, and a public one for use on customers wireless devices.  A trial of the service is offered for free, after which users can purchase access on either a daily or monthly basis.  The revenue generated on selling the wi-fi then reduces the costs for the business that purchased the service.  The pilot program, located in a mall in Nairobi, has already seen great success and a large customer base.  It will be interesting to see how this develops, and learn more about the role the private market can take in ICT4D.  I have included a video in which Mr. Bachani describes the program.

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