By Jackson Okoth
The Government has awarded loans to some 26 entrepreneurs to establish new ICT centres in various counties in the country.
The move is part of the State’s strategy to increase Internet connectivity in the rural areas to enable the population here access essential public services.
It is also hoped that such centres will spur development of local content thus driving traffic and create new revenue streams.
The 26 entrepreneurs will each receive Sh1 million; bringing the total number of those already benefiting from this ICT board-Family Bank scheme, to 63 people.
Figures indicate that only 30 per cent of the country has Internet connectivity, deepening digital divide between urban and rural areas.
“Electronic voting and access of government services through the web is only possible if digital villages are near the people,” said the Information and Communication PS Bitange Ndemo.
“That is why we are serious about improving Internet connectivity, building local digital content and creating awareness about ICT products and services in the rural areas.”
The Pasha programme is aimed at creating new entrepreneurs in rural areas, who are innovative and able to offer services beyond Internet connectivity such as money transfer or agency banking.
The plan is to connect schools, health to Pasha Centres countrywide. The World Bank broadband initiative — the Regional Communications Infrastructure Project (RCIP) — aims to lower the cost and extend the reach of international broadband capacity, among other goals.
In March 2007, as part of the RCIP effort, the Government agreed on a programme to develop “digital villages” — rural villages connected to the Internet — giving residents access to the range of information and services provided by the Web.
In 2008, the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group formed a trusted partnership with the Kenya ICT Board to help develop the board’s understanding of the issues it needed to address within the RCIP.
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