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State steps up bid to boost digital literacy

Nyanza
 The government has partnered with community networks in a bid to bridge the digital divide in the country. [iStockphoto]

The government through the Ministry of ICT and Digital Economy has partnered with community networks in a bid to bridge the digital divide in the country.

The partnership is also aimed at extending opportunities to those who would otherwise never access them.

ICT Authority Director of Shared Services Michael Odhiambo, said the community networks have helped in shaping the internet into a product that is useful and safe.

Speaking during the three-day national summit on the role of community networks in Akala, Siaya county, Mr Odhiambo said public WiFi hotspots were taking root and becoming public utilities.

"As a government, we are ready to support anyone who is in this because the strategy has worked well for us," he said adding that community networks have helped unlocking internet connectivity.

The summit, organized by the Africa Higher Education Research Institute (Aheri) brought together community network operators, policymakers, regulators, funders, civil society organisations, academia, and the private sector from Kenya, Africa and the world.

Organisers said the event is aimed at creating awareness of community networks among policymakers, regulators, and other stakeholders in Kenya.

Odhiambo explained that introducing ICT at the lower levels of learning was a strategic advantage to make it not to become a course for learners in secondary schools.

"Technology in early learning is very important and it is for this reason that we are partnering with community networks to ensure the internet is offered with value," he said.

He announced that as part of the government's “Digital Super Highway” plan, they are gearing up to digitise 80 per cent of its services, roll out 25,000 Wi-Fi hotspots, and set up 1,450 village digital hubs.

Odhiambo noted that out of the 100,000km fibre optic network connectivity, the government can only handle 52,000km, leaving the rest to community networks.

Community Initiatives Support Services Director Robert Owino said the community networks have helped in bringing affordable network connectivity to areas where there are connectivities.

"Through the community networks, it has been able to bridge the innovation and adaptability gap. In ten or so years, it wouldn't be profitable to sell the internet on its own but also the solutions that it creates," said Owino.

He said they are committed to connecting the unconnected and serving the underserved through the partnership.

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