Kenya acts to double Internet reach by 2017

By: LILIAN OCHIENG

Investors planning to set up broadband infrastructure will receive financial support from the National Treasury as the government looks to double Internet penetration by 2017.

ICT Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i on Tuesday said he was working with the National Treasury on a legislation that will support broadband investments through public-private partnerships.

The law will enable ease of site acquisitions and reduction of way leave fees by county governments. It will also result in a huge reduction in the cost of Internet.

REGISTER MASTER PLAN

“We are also revising the broadband master plan even as we discuss a raft of resources that we can give to private sector to push our agenda,” said Dr Matiang’i at the Annual Huawei Broadband Conference yesterday in Nairobi.

“President Kenyatta is committed to deepening Internet penetration to enhance accountability, transparency and increase public participation,” he said.

Dr Matiang’i said there were plans to leverage on excess infrastructure from Kenya Power, Kenya Electricity Transmission Co Ltd (Ketraco) and Kenya Pipeline, to supply broadband to rural Kenya.

Speaking during the conference, Huawei chief executive Yu Dingpeng said there is need for the government to push for legislation that will allow private sector to connect all households to high speed Internet.

“Every 10 per cent of broadband leads to 3 per cent increase in economic growth. Kenya’s growth will be pegged on deepening penetration in rural areas,” said Mr Yu on Tuesday. The plans will complement moves by the Communications Authority of Kenya to deepen Internet penetration countrywide through the Universal Service Fund.

The authority has hired a consultant to determine the depth of Internet penetration to enable implementation of the USF fund which could cost an estimated Sh100 billion.

Facebook has also partnered with Airtel Africa to complement its free Internet initiative. The social media giant wants to beam Internet using drones to remote areas in Africa by 2016.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION