Africa Online was founded by three young Kenyan entrepreneurs, Ayisi Makatiani, Karanja Gakio and Amolo Ng'weno in Cambridge, Massachusetts in early 1994 with the vision of connecting the continent to the rapidly expanding Internet.
Operating out of Cambridge, the company began by offering subscribers a distributed African news service via e-mail. The growth period began with the establishment of our first small office in Nairobi, Kenya in 1995. Since then, the company has grown to become the preferred Premium service provider in the continent, with operations in nine African countries.
Africa Online began offering services in Kenya from February 1995 managed at the time by Amolo Ng'weno. Early services consisted of a store and forward e-mail service as well as the first generation Web site, www.africaonline.com, hosted on servers in Boston. This site was well received as the first dynamic site covering Africa on the Web, winning an award from Global Network Navigator, now part of America Online, within three weeks of its launch.
In November 1995, the founding directors sold Africa Online to Prodigy Inc., the fourth-largest ISP in the United States at the time. The acquisition was part of Prodigy's strategy to expand into new markets outside the US. Under the terms of the sale, the founders of Africa Online received shares in Prodigy Inc, in exchange for their shares in Africa Online, and continued to manage the business. Africa Online, along with Prodigy China, formed the International Division at Prodigy.
In 1996, Africa Online expanded its services to Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana and launched its full Internet services in Kenya. In 1997, the company launched operations in Tanzania and Zimbabwe. By the end of 1997, however, Prodigy had been bought by a Mexican investment group which was interested in disposing of the International division.
In October 1998, the Africa Online management company, TelCorp, and African Lakes PLC established Africa Online Holdings Ltd, a holding company that acquired Africa Online from Prodigy Inc. TelCorp secured a management contract on the basis of which shareholders continued to manage and grow Africa Online. African Lakes held a convertible loan investment in Africa Online Holdings at this time.
The African Lakes investment in Africa Online allowed for several key acquisitions which enhanced the geographic coverage and service offering to clients. These included the acquisition of Pipex Internet Solution Swaziland (PTY) in June 1999, Kenya's second largest ISP, Net2000 Limited in January 2000, UUNET Namibia's dial-up subscriber base in April 2000 and Swift Global Uganda, Uganda's second largest ISP in the same month. In March 2001, African Lakes acquired Africa Online from TelCorp and embarked on a restructuring which saw the company focus on various core operating units.
Telkom South Africa acquired Africa Online Limited (Mauritius) from African lakes Corporation in February 2007.
Telkom is Africa's largest integrated communications company, providing integrated communications solutions to an entire range of customers. Telkom's passion is to become world-class.
Africa Online is 100% owned by Telkom South Africa (www.telkom.co.za), a listed company registered in South Africa.
Since then, Africa Online has grown from strength to strength, consolidating its core business around all forms of Internet solutions. With its expansive reach across the African continent and its numerous strategic relationships with affiliate partners in non-present countries, Africa Online is able to provide customers with a wide range of products and services to suit any Internet communication need.