CA connects 68 remote sub-locations to mobile voice services

The Communication Authority of Kenya has linked additional 68 sub-locations across the country to the Universal Service Fund (USF).

The beneficiary sub-locations, connected at a cost of Sh1.245 billion, are in Narok, Turkana, West Pokot, Samburu, Marsabit, Kajiado, Baringo, Isiolo, Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Kitui, Kilifi and Kwale counties.

A total of 290,000 people who were initially unable to receive or make calls can now enjoy mobile services from this USF initiative dubbed the Voice Infrastructure project.

The USF is aimed to facilitate network deployment and service provision in rural, outlying and economically unattractive areas, where telcos may not invest due to lack of economic viability. Operators contribute a mandatory 0.5 per cent of the annual gross revenue to the kitty that has so far collected Sh9.1 billion.

Launching the infrastructure voice project in Narok County, Mercy Wanjau, CA’s acting Director General said the 68-sub-location were part of the 78 sub-locations targeted in the phase one of the project and that 10 more sites were at different stages of completion.

“We see the availability of mobile services in this area and indeed other parts of the country that has been connected through this project, creating a ripple effect in other facets of the society, for instance in health, agriculture and education services and also financial inclusion through the mobile money transfer services,” Wanjau said.

CA chairman Ngene Gituku noted that while the Authority has to date collected a total of Sh9.1 billion in the USF kitty the amount was far from adequate to bridge the existing digital divide in the country.

Gituku added the resources required to close the initial Voice and Education Broadband connectivity gaps up to the 2022/23 financial year are estimated at Sh11.16 Billion.

''Closing all the identified voice connectivity gaps in their entirety requires in excess of Sh75 billion, while estimates for connecting the entire country to broadband are to the tune of Sh 111.1 billion,'' said Ngene.

ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru on his part said the government considers that lowering the cost of ICT services as key in driving affordability and ensuring that the country remains competitive and attractive for investment.

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