Free Internet project ‘didn’t deserve award’

By: WANJIRU MACHARI

Nakuru residents have termed last week’s continental award for the controversial free Wi-Fi project a slap in the face, as they were yet to benefit from the multi-million shilling initiative.

The project scooped the prize during the Africom Awards in Cape Town last Wednesday after beating other contenders in the ‘Changing Lives’ category.

Residents wondered whether the award organisers went to the ground to establish if the project was actually changing lives.

Mr Bernard Kamau said the free Wi-Fi only worked in about three small hotspots in the town and inside Afraha Stadium.

“I am seated just outside Afraha Stadium where Bilawaya cable passes through and I am not in range, the service is not available. The award is a slap in the face of Internet users in Nakuru town,” said Mr Kamau.

Ms Joan Nyaboke said the project was not effective yet more than Sh200 million was spent on it.

Members of Nakuru East Whatsapp group and several others took to social media to condemn the award, saying it was given based on misleading information.

The Nakuru Wi-Fi Bilawaya project is an initiative involving the county government, Liquid Telecom Kenya and the Presidential Strategic Communications Unit-Digital.

The award recognises initiatives that have significantly impacted African communications in the community and contributed to economic and social development.

The project won the award despite the controversies surrounding it, including a pending court case, since it was launched on March 30 last year.

A day after it was launched, the Wi-Fi malfunctioned, compelling the county government to involve Liquid Telcom following protests by residents.

Speaking after the awards, Governor Kinuthia Mbugua thanked Nakuru residents for their patience.

“I would like to thank Nakuru residents for their patience after the bad start to this very important initiative,” he said.