Innovator Profile: Ruralstar

RuralStar – A breakthrough for remote communities in Kenya

By Robert Hansor
Sustainable Development Principal,


Huawei launched the RuralStar 2.0 solution in 2017 to reduce the cost of providing rural coverage, specifically designed to provide both 2G voice, SMS and mobile money services as well as 3G broadband data services for rural communities.

In Kenya, where only approximately 22% of households have Internet access there exist a digital divide. The expense of bringing mobile connectivity to remote areas results in limited opportunities to access digital services that could potentially help improve the lives of rural communities.

RuralStar promotes new rural network construction in emerging markets via:

  • Low power consumption
  • New battery technology
  • Easy installation
  • Innovations in both technology and tower design

Using the RuralStar2.0 solution, Huawei and its customer, Safaricom, bought 2G and 3G communications to the remote town of Duse, in remote northeastern Kenya for the first time in 2017. Huawei’s RuralStar solution addresses demands for voice and data services from the unconnected and increases operator ROI for rural network deployment at a maximum distance of 60km from the nearest tower-mounted sites

The RuralStar solution effectively decreases the total cost of operation (TCO) of more than 50% compared to traditional site solutions[1], delivering a Return On Investment (ROI) for operators of less than five years[2].


Duse in the remote northeast of Kenya and has a population of around 3,000 people. Literacy levels are low and raids from cattle bandits are a frequent challenge. Before RuralStar, it had no communication network. People walked 20 kilometers to the next town to use the Internet. The effect of RuralStar has been transformational.

Within two months of RuralStar’s installation, over 500 people connected for the first time. To record some of the changes, Huawei visited the village before and after RuralStar arrived.

Better healthcare: access to ambulance services, which was previously impossible; access to online health information; online ordering of medical supplies; health reports can be emailed instead of carried to the authorities.

Better security: public security has improved; incidents are reported more quickly; the Kenya Police Reserve and local Administration Police can be mobilized faster, access online information, monitor events, and submit reports more quickly.

Better services: Safaricom’s M-PESA application is accessible for the first time, allowing villagers to use their phones to save and store money, trade goods, re-stock stores, and sell products; migrant workers in Duse can now communicate and send money to distant loved ones.

Better education: attendance has improved because of improved security and communication between law enforcement and the village; teachers are able to access information online and show videos and other content to students and stay up to date with government advice on education.




Please click here to access RuralStar Case Study


Please note that the blog post above does not constitute an endorsement by the GSMA. All information has been provided directly by the company profiled. 

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