CCK, operators to decide use of Universal Service Fund

By Semaj Itosno, Nairobi, Kenya

Kenya is wrapping up plans to unveil the much-awaited Universal Service Fund, which aims to spread ICTs to the remote areas.

According to the Communications Commission of Kenya, already a bank account has been opened and Sh1billion deposited towards the fund.

"The council is meeting to determine where the funds will be used and to choose who will implement it,” CCK director-general Francis Wangusi said when he appeared before Kenya's Parliamentary committee on Energy, Communications and Information.

Wangusi said CCK and mobile phone companies will discuss and launch modalities that will guide the fund.

Already, Safaricom, Orange, yuMobile and Airtel, are meeting with the regulator under the Universal Service Advisory Council to iron out issues that had threatened to scuttle the fund’s administration.

The fund was set up almost five years ago to help step up telecommunication infrastructure in rural and remote areas, which are normally considered financially unviable. However a squabble between CCK and the mobile operators on how to run the fund has delayed its implementation which Parliament wants to unhinge.

The mobile firms had protested their exclusion from the fund’s board, resulting in the parliamentary committee summoning Wangusi to explain why the fund was still dormant almost half a decade since it was set up.

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