Africa Online Holdings Ltd. and Barclays Africa have opened their first Internet cafe as part of an initiative designed to advance electronic commerce across the continent.

The e-world Internet centre opened earlier this month at the Barclays Plaza building in Nairobi, Kenya. The project springs from an alliance pairing the ISP (Internet service provider) with the multinational bank. A key theme at the e-world launch was the need for Africans to experience the benefits of information technology, emphasized in a speech by Ayisi Malcatiani, the co-founder of Africa Online.

The partnership between his company and Barclays Africa is aimed at integrating the Internet and financial services offered by the two. Besides the first center in Nairobi, two others are planned for the Moi Avenue and Haile Selassie bank branch offices. Nairobi was chosen for the centers because that’s where Africa Online is based.

The first center features Internet access speeds up to 128K bps (bits per second).

The project has a Web site,