State rolls out Sh225b plan to improve Internet speeds

The Government is planning to increase access to affordable high-speed broadband throughout the country to enable economic players lower data transmission costs. Access to high-speed broadband has been shown to have a positive effect on economic growth.

In 2013, the ICT ministry and Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), in collaboration with other stakeholders in the ICT sector, developed the National Broadband Strategy.

Under it, Kenya targets to have national minimum speeds of 5Mbps (megabits per second) by 2017 and 500Mbps by 2030.

“For the country to realise its growth targets, we shall require funding of $2.5 billion (Sh224.7 billion), an amount that is beyond any single organisation and only realisable through contributions from many stakeholders over a period of time,” ICT Principal Secretary Joseph Tiampati said last week.

In the last decade, Kenya’s communication sector has recorded exponential growth in voice, data and broadcasting services. To maintain the trajectory, various data providers are working to connect the country’s major urban centres with fibre optic cabling.

“While these efforts are commendable, I wish to urge operators to promote orderly development and avoid unnecessary duplication of infrastructure. As efforts to extend services to rural areas are intensified, we will work closely with county governments to facilitate site acquisition and minimise the numerous demands that work against last-mile connectivity,” said Mr Tiampati.

However, there is currently no regulatory framework in place to allow for infrastructure sharing. This means there has been inevitable duplication in the construction of access roads, towers and ducts.

The Government is working on a plan to ensure construction takes into account conduits that can be utilised by data operators along the road network.

“We will soon be floating open tenders for the rolling out of community broadband projects in two counties, and the establishment of 46 e-Resource Centres in Kenya National Library Services facilities across the country,” said Ben Gituku, chairman of the CA board.

With a mobile subscription base of about 32 million users, Kenya’s mobile penetration is one of the highest in the region. However, the country’s absorption of Internet bandwidth is low. Whereas total Internet bandwidth stood at 847,464.4Mbps in the quarter to June, the country could only consume 436,016Mbps, which is a 51 per cent utilisation.