An internet balloon launched under a joint effort by President Uhuru Kenyatta's administration and the private sector has found itself in a sleepy Congolese village where it has caused tension for the past three days.
Uhuru's beloved Google balloon collected in a Congolese village
Google confirms the balloon is one of those launched in Kenya
The balloon crash-landed deep in the Congolese jungle, causing panic among authorities that it could have been a spy machine.
Two people who had gone on the retrieval machine were arrested until Google's parent company Alphabet came out to explain that the device was one of the 35 internet balloons launched in Kenya early this year.
The company further said the landing was controlled although the equipmnet was visibly destroyed during the landing.
"I can confirm that Loon executed a controlled landing of one of our stratospheric balloons in this region,” a Loon spokesman said in a statement.
There appears to have been a breakdown of information as the DRC aviation authorities acknowledged working with the team from Project Loon to ensure the balloon had a safe landing.
However, Bas-Uele Governor Valentin Senga, in whose territory the ballon landed, told Reuters that he was in the dark.
“I’m not able to say exactly what kind of device I observed. What intrigues us is that neither the intelligence services nor the local aviation authorities claim to have any information on the overflight of Congolese air space by this aircraft," Senga said on Monday.
President Kenyatta has championed the Google Loon project which has been rolled out through collaboration between the Ministry of ICT and Telkom Kenya.
In July, ICT CS Joe Mucheru, who is a former Google Executive, made a publicized call with President Kenyatta from a remote village in Baringo through the loon-powered connectivity.
“The beginning of this is connectivity and we are very grateful to Loon for working together with us to be able to provide this service which will be able to create opportunities, improve livelihoods and also connect to the health system,” Kenyatta said.
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