136 Kenyan campuses now connected
DEVELOPMENT| Dec. 31, 2013, 10:34 a.m.
The Government of Kenya through the ICT Authority has officially launched a network that connects 136 University Campuses across the country through a $22.5 million grant. The funding, extended by the government in the course of the last five years, was channelled through the Kenya Education Network Trust (KENET), which is a National Research and Education Network set up in 1999 to promote the use of ICT in Teaching, Learning and Research in Higher Education Institutions in Kenya.
The grant has resulted in an investment in campus infrastructure of about two times the amount awarded making KENET sustainable in all its operations. The number of institutions connected has grown from 6 at inception to 136.
The network was built to provide access to affordable connectivity in order to increase the research and educational experience of students in institutions of higher learning. Currently, KENET serves around 250,000 students, 8000 teaching and 20,000 members of non-teaching staff. The bandwidth is offered at a subsidized cost of USD 160 per Mega bite and 10 MB are enough to serve 1,000 students.
The launch, which was held at the Technical University of Mombasa, was attended by University Heads and ICT officials who are attending a Head of institutions forum aimed at increasing higher education uptake of ICT. With the launch of the network, it is projected that more students, academia and the researchers will utilize effectively the high speed internet that is now available across campuses. It is anticipated that this will have a direct bearing with the cadre of graduates coming out of local institutions.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Dr Fred Matiangi’ the Cabinet Secretary Ministry of ICT said that the country now has a robust internet connection made possible by the laying of the fibre optic cable and it’s critical to up the demand for digital content.
“Today’s university students must be part of a robust educational system. KENET allows this to happen by providing universities with high speed internet. It is now possible for our students to be in tandem with the world,” said Mr. Matiang’i.
Dr Matiangi emphasized on the need for Public Private Partnerships and called for the involvement of the academia in implementing government projects. “There is need for Multinationals to collaborate with our universities for skills transfer if we are to build a sustainable ICT industry,” he said.
The private-public partnership model used by KENET has made it possible to develop a large national network in only five years and this it has done so with limited financing.
“The 1998 Kenya Communication Act enabled the growth of the sector and integration of private sector through public private partnerships,” said Prof Meoli Kashorda, the KENET Executive Director.
Prof Meoli highlighted some challenges in connecting more institutions, including fiber links, licensed radios or even commercial leased lines. Connecting a campus via a leased line outside Nairobi still costs about Kshs 690,000 on the average, he reported.
Many university campuses will need support in rolling out campus-wide wireless LANs, upgrading their campus fiber backbone networks, and for last mile broadband connections via fiber. These represent huge investments - the rule of thumb is that campus network investments should be 10 times the KENET national backbone investments. “At this time, the total campus network investments has only been one times the KENET/MoIC investment in the national network,” said Prof Meoli quoting from data collected and analyzed by KENET from various universities.
Another issue that needs addressing is that of increase of laptop ownership among students. An e-readiness research done by KENET this year show that on the average, over 50 per cent of the 400,000 students in higher institutions own laptops but only 13 per cent are visible in the campus networks (or are bringing to the campuses). In the report at least two universities had over 80 per cent of the students reported that they have their own laptops.
That’s why the issue of awareness among students is important for KENET. With this launch, KENET targets to increase membership and increase the uptake of bandwidth by students and researchers. Once the students are aware, they will be able to use the network for research; the universities will be able to use technology more to interact with the students- e-learning, video conferencing session, podcasts and online registration.
As Kenya works towards creating a knowledge economy, experts at the launch said broadband uptake will contribute to building solid skills among students.
Research has demonstrated the direct correlation of broadband penetration to economic growth. According to a World Bank report on broadband; for every 10 percent broadband penetration, a country’s economic growth rises by 2.5 percent.
“These realities are the achievements we want to see registered in this country,” said Dr Matiang’i.
Also in attendance were Prof Josphat Mwatellah VC, Technical University and Prof Crispus Kiamba who is a Trustee of KENET.
Kenet connectivity boosts Kenyan research and education.
MORE DEVELOPMENT NEWS
Orange Kenya in solar lighting partnershipOrange and GreenLight Planet, a US based company that delivers affordable energy to off-grid consumers, have signed a strategic partnership to provide affordable solar lighting to Kenyan homes in areas that have limited access to electricity, through the use of solar lamps with a USB charging mechanism. Read More
Airtel Kenya illuminates schools in Machakos CountyBharti Airtel has donated 40 solar lamps to Tala SA primary school and St. Mary’s Tala primary school in Machakos County, Kenya. Read More
First in MEA: Dubai to host Microsoft in Education Global ForumIn a clear message of Microsoft’s strong engagement and support to the Middle East and Africa region, Dubai is hosting the two day Microsoft in Education Global Forum on the 22nd and 23rdFebruary at the Grand Hyatt, Dubai. Read More
Tigo commissions water project for DawurampongOver 3,000 residents of Dawurampong and surrounding communities in the Gomoa West District of Ghana’s Central region will now have access to clean and safe water with the successful completion and commissioning of a new borehole and water tank by Tigo. Read More
Congo’s Marien Ngouabi University launches staff ICT trainingIntensive ICT training will take place this year for staff at Congo Brazzaville’s state-funded Marien Ngouabi University (UMNG). Read More
MTN Cameroon rewards academic excellence in telecomsExcellence scholarships have been awarded to 145 students of the National Advanced School of Posts and Telecommunications and the National Advanced School of Engineering. Read More
UNICEF, Airtel form pan-African partnership to empower children and youthUNICEF and Bharti Airtel have entered a partnership agreement to expand their collaboration across 17 countries in Africa. The partnership aims at improving Africa’s population access to health and education-related information whilst pushing forward various innovative projects supported by UNICEF. Read More
Airtel Kenya mentorship programme inspires the future for Mukuru studentsToday's children grow up having to cope with many social issues and challenges as they pursue their dreams of achieving their education dreams and as they go through difficult life transitions. Read More
1,089 patients to be released from hospital by the Leopards, AirtelBharti Airtel will be settling hospital bills for hundreds of patients in Congo, through a partnership with the Democratic Republic of Congo national team – ‘The Leopards’. Read More
Airtel, OKF make a difference for visually impaired studentAirtel Ghana, Ghana Telecom CSR Company of the Year has partnered Osei-Kusi Foundation (OKF) to Make a Change in the life of Grace Annabi a level 200 visually impaired student studying education at the University of Cape Coast. Read More
FEATURED STORYMalawi Govt denies clinging to ‘Cashgate’ software
The Malawi Government will not exclude the software brand that has been in use for the country’s Integrated Financial Management System (IFMIS), but it has rejected reports implying that it is ‘clinging’ to the old system.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHKenya’s digital TV battle hots up
Kenya’s journey to Digital TV broadcasting took a new turn this week, when the Communication Authority of Kenya (CAK) accused three local media firms of intent to disrupt the process.