The ICT Authority of Kenya, a state corporation under the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology (MoICT), hosted a commissioning ceremony for the rehabilitated Eldoret to Nakodok fibre optic cable on Friday 23rd October 2020.
The Authority also launched the construction of the 630 km high speed fibre optic cable which will follow a similar route, on that date.
The project is jointly funded by both the government of Kenya and World Bank to the tune of 2 billion Kenya Shillings
The Turkana County Governor Josephat Nanok said that upon completion the main build project will benefit communities, government agencies and businesses in the North Rift region of Kenya, which includes the Counties of Turkana, West Pokot, Trans Nzoia and Uasin Gishu and parts of Kakamega County. It will also promote cross-border trade with Kenya’s neighbor, South Sudan.
“Towns such as Eldoret, Kitale, Lodwar, Kakuma, Lokichar and Lokichoggio will greatly benefit from the new fibre optic cable, which is in line with the Ministry of ICT’s long-term plans to transform lives through smart ICT infrastructure which bridges the digital divide and brings prosperity to the remotest parts of Kenya,” he said.
The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure representative James Kungu said the project has been under implementation from November 2015 and will close in December 2021. Besides the fibre optic cable, the World Bank will finance construction of a 338km of the road from Lokichar to the border with South Sudan and build Kainuk Bridge, which will enable all-season transport between Turkana and West Pokot counties.
“In the recent past, the government and the World Bank have shifted project design from the traditional sector-specific project activities to a more inclusive multi-sectoral approach. This has created the enhancement of collaboration among several sectors including ICT, transport, trade and industry, among others. This has had the effect of enhancing project results and widening the beneficiary communities,” he said, reading a speech on behalf of the Principal Secretary, State Department of Infrastructure Professor Paul Maringa.
ICT Authority CEO Dr. Katherine Getao said: “The ICT Authority has completed the rehabilitation of fibre optic cable from Eldoret to Nadapal, with part of the route being completed using a wireless solution. This section of the project will provide connectivity between the Northern Rift part of Kenya to the counties of Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, Turkana and West Pokot.”
She said that she appreciated the close collaboration that was fostered by the ICT, roads and energy sectors leading to the development of more cost-effective and sustainable infrastructure through an integrated approach.
She added that the ICT infrastructure will be used to connect public and social institutions including hospitals, government offices and schools. Part of the capacity will be leased to telecommunications operators to raise funds to support its maintenance.
The ICT Authority Chairman Prof. Fredrick Owino said Kenya is an ICT hub to its regional neighbours and the government has an ICT Infrastructure Master Plan to guide the development of ICT infrastructure throughout Kenya.
He said that the mandate of the ICT Authority is to provide connectivity to all parts of the country and to provide digital services to all parts of the country with equity, as articulated in the 2020-24 Strategic Plan that promotes the development of digital infrastructure to enable the digital economy.
“We are delighted to successfully complete a project that is designed to deliver socio-economic transformation to north western Kenya and to commence the main build, which will develop a huge information highway from the heart of Kenya to the border with our East African neighbour, South Sudan,” he said.
World Bank representative, James Theuri noted that as a development partner, that the activity on rehabilitation of the fibre optic cable is complete and ICT services restored in the four counties.
“We are delighted with the successful completion of the rehabilitation and the progress made towards the construction of the main build cable,” he said.
The two projects are part of the US$ 500 million South Sudan-Eastern Africa Regional Transport, Trade and Development Facilitation Program (EARTTDFP) that connects Kenya and South Sudan through the laying of a fibre-optic cable and construction of a superhighway, which is part of a wider government of Kenya program to support Kenya’s economic development strategy and address the mounting pressure to enhance connectivity to the northern parts of Kenya and South Sudan to the Port of Mombasa.