The hunt for free wifi begins
By Ronald Kasagga @sagas2k7
We’ve all been there, that moment when your thirst for the internet cannot be quenched by the MBs left on your modem. Whether to watch a video on YouTube, Facebook or WhatsApp or even download a really large attachment, it soon becomes apparent to the average Ugandan that it’s never enough.
One day, it finally got to me. Feeling smart (we all do sometimes) I turned to my cybernetic best friend, Google, hoping to use the very last of my data subscription to locate a decent internet well to quench my thirst. If you’re trying it now, you realize how inconclusive all the information is. But I’ll get to that part later. And just like that an SMS ‘reminded’ me to renew my subscription. Any campus student would think; Why not try the University wireless? With my experience, after going through all the blocks and restrictions, it is still slow. I really need more internet time.
A Wifi hunt video moment
It was inevitable, it had to be done. I had found a place to surf, and being a Saturday morning, I was hungry too. In agreement with my cause (but mostly out of hunger) some friends of mine accompanied me to the Mokka Terrace at Oasis Mall for a decent breakfast and hopefully, get a go at their Wi-Fi. The ambience is good, and then after having a soda each, we asked for the password which we got. However, for whichever reason, we were never able to connect.
Undeterred and still going strong, we proceeded to our next destination, Javas, still at Oasis Mall. After taking a seat and having an astonished gaze at the menu, we decided to cut to the chase. The lady that attended to us was nice and charismatic, even as she blankly told us our order had to exceed UGX. 25,000 ($10.1 ) for her to consider giving us a password. We had eaten already, right? So off we went.
KFC wireless was not yet operational
Our next stop was a landmark, a recent favorite to the hearts and tongues of us Ugandans that love to munch upon that goodness good chefs ever make of chicken. We were heading to KFC in Bugolobi and I was excited. Getting there, the place was crowded, buckets were emptying and we found ourselves a table. It seemed a long while, and no one had attended to us, so I decided to catch up on my streams to pass the time. Assuredly, I walked up to one busy waitress and asked for a password, only to come back to the table, strap on my backpack and head out. When my friends asked, I told them what she told me, “… the network is up but not yet operational. You cannot use it.”
As we approached the exit to the underground parking of forest mall, our final destination emerged from among the hedges, it seemed to call out to us, so we took the bait and entered Gatto Matto. It was quiet, peaceful, not crowded and we were hungry. We took our seats, made our order and asked for a password. Just then, my notification bar filled up with bubbles as all that is social in my phone came alive. For the first time all day, it worked!!
Having eaten our fill, all roads lead to Metroplex, home to Uganda’s first 3D cinema. We hadn’t looked up the show times, so we couldn’t catch a movie. There was indeed a wealth of wireless networks, but we failed to find anyone willing to tell us how to get the password. And with that, our day was over.
WiFi here , WiFi everywhere
It is worth mentioning that before we began this Wi-Fi expedition, I had managed to compile a list of other places in Kampala with Wi-Fi. I got some help from friends and the internet. In addition to our findings from our half hazard expedition, you can also find wifi at the following places.
Institutions of Higher Learning
Including Makerere University, Kampala International University, MUBS and Kyambogo University, you are bound to find wireless at nearly any high level educational institution in the country.
Restaurants and Cafés
In various locations around Kampala, you can grab a bite at Café Javas while enjoying a decent internet connection at any of their branches, including Bombo Road, Oasis Mall and Kiira Road .
On Yusuf Lule road Soho Café is reported to have fast internet. There aren’t many wall sockets, but there’s a good chance of getting one during the day when it’s not too crowded.
Rumor has it that The Lawns, Located on plot 34 Impala Avenue in Kololo also have fast internet as well as a quiet and calm ambience perfectly to get lots of work done.
Within the complex itself, Kawa Café is just opposite the entrance to Aristoc. However, you have to bear with the slow connection and the scarcity of plugs.
A great place to grab some ice cream and a fairly wide selection of pastries along with a nice and cozy partially outdoor ambiance, Tuttie Fruitty is a nice place to grab a bite while you surf the web.
If you’re into Indian dishes Nawab Restaurant is a good place to relax and enjoy the exotic cultural touch while getting a fairly decent internet connection.
Located on the fourth floor of Soliz House in Nakasero, Outbox Hub is a collaborative space for developers looking for the right environment to incubate their ideas and forge the next big thing.
At the heart of the so called ‘Silcon valley’ version of Uganda, located along Kanjokya road, The Hub (hive colab) is a great place to breed inspiration and creativity. Word is, from those that dare say, the speed of their internet is worth tears of joy.
City Wide Access
Many of you must have noticed MTN’s publicly accessible WiFi network that covers a large part of the city. It’s worth noting that it is not free and actually serves as an alternative for MTN customers to use their phone or modem internet subscriptions. Once you join the network, the setup process is quite straight forward. In the rumor mill we expect something from Google in regards to city wide WiFi (think project link reloaded), but that's a story for another day.
If you feel I missed a nice spot, have the wrong information or have a suggestion, do leave us a comment below.