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Investment in network infrastructure to benefit consumers, economy

By MUGO KIBATI | Apr 14th 2019 | 3 min read
By MUGO KIBATI | April 14th 2019

The age-old question on the impact of technology and innovation should be viewed from a wider lens, seeing that it not only confers individual benefits but consequently enhances our economy over time.

Every time you look at the life of a Kenyan, you can’t help but notice the impact of mobile apps, software and gadgets; their use having grown from enabling communication to entertainment and now headed to an even more hyper-simulated environment targeting health and transport. But isn’t it time that we looked beyond the cool gadgets powering our lives?

Our country’s development blueprint, Vision 2030, champions a fully-fledged, future knowledge-based economy by 2030, with Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) as the primary driver.

The telecommunications sub-sector has continued to chaperone transformational strides as evidenced in the Economic Survey 2018; the ICT sector expanded by 11 per cent in 2017, compared to 9.7 per cent in 2016.

The performance was mainly supported by the expansion of the digital economy through mobile telephony, e-commerce, online training as well as tax administration which had a significant bearing on overall economic growth.

According to the survey, this growth was driven by improved performance in the telecommunication sub-sector which rose by 12.7 per cent in 2017 through increased use of the Internet as evidenced in increased utilisation of available bandwidth.

Other opportunities

The availability of bandwidth and further utilisation puts the customer at the heart of this conversation, and it behoves that telcos continually invest in infrastructure to enable them offer a service when and where it is most needed, while opening up other opportunities, albeit affordably. 

It is with this lens that one must view Telkom Kenya’s continued investment into its network infrastructure through capitalisation on the 4G and 3G network as well as Fibre-to-the-Building (FTTB) Network. So too is the innovative balloon-powered internet partnership with Loon LLC (a sister company to Google and a subsidiary of Alphabet) that will finally see us give hard-to-reach areas access to the Internet by way of Telkom’s 4G/LTE network via floating cell towers.

This will engender an improvement in mobile connectivity, boosting the quality of service and therefore social welfare. Further, enterprises and corporate customers that have been in search of a steady network to thrive in these areas, now have an opportunity to extend their footprint, opening up the regions through a variety of economic activities.

Progressively, the numbers and economics intertwined with next-generation technology provide massive opportunities for enabling various sectors of our economy in real and absolute terms. Beckoning revolutions such as 5G, Internet of Things (IoT) and enterprises and Machine to Machine Communication (M2M), which are expected to power the future world.

From this, it is clear that manufacturing, smart city living as well as transportation will hugely depend on top-of-class connectivity and data service provision, hinged on future-fit and scalable networkinfrastructure.

Given the investment of close to Sh12 billion in Telkom Kenya’s case that has been made in the past few years,  the business environment must accordingly be progressive, bolstered by a sound regulatory environment.

The writer is the Chief Executive Officer, Telkom Kenya

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