Homa Bay County rolls out Sh123 million internet

HOMA BAY, KENYA: Homa Bay County has connected to hi-speed Internet in a Sh123 million roll out that it officials say has eliminated long queues for government services.

The Cyprian Awiti led County says the project will also enable it to promote access to ICT facilities and services in local communities.

Covering a radius of 15km, the Homa Bay network is providing point-to-point Internet connectivity for the County government, the corporate sector and small businesses, with some 20 corporate customers also having benefited from the network, including Post Bank and Barclays Bank.

“The connection will translate into huge benefits to county operations, as all county departments are now online, thus enhancing efficiency and co-ordination within ministries,” said William Oungo, Head of Government Affairs at Liquid Telecom Kenya.

The county now plans to update and store population data online and run a range of new e-government services to ease and speed up the delivery of high quality services and documents, with plans at an advanced stage to facilitate the issuing of birth certificates and national identity cards online. It has already moved to provide many local government forms online.

"Before the installation of the Liquid Internet service, all tender documents were collected manually from county offices with long queues and people waiting for more than an hour just to get tender and other documents printed," said Homa Bay County acting ICT Director Emmanuel Athoo.

“Now the queues are gone. People are able to download tender documents and bring them to the office just for processing,” he said. "This is a major milestone for the county."

The county has also deployed the government's Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS), as well as the integrated payroll and personnel database.

“The connectivity has already facilitated the payment of services and suppliers. Payment of salaries and suppliers is no longer delayed, aswe just wirepayments directly. Our procurement process is also now online making the whole process efficient, and we advertise jobs and tenders online too, through county website which can be accessed through the URL http://www.homabay.go.ke. Previously most of the services were done manually,” said Athoo.

Homa Bay county government is also now set to open an Innovation Centre aimed at helping resident’s access information faster, cutting travelling times to Internet services and bringing new business opportunities to the county.

“The centre is designed to impart advanced and specialized training programs in ICT to the citizens of Homa Bay and the wider region, develop specialized skills among teachers and students in the field of ICT and train County Government staff on ICT and Facilitate penetration of ICT usage in rural areas of the economy,” said Athoo.

The county’s connection comes as part of Liquid Telecom Kenya’s Sh4.35bn ($50m) investment in connectivity partnerships with now 39 out of Kenya’s 47 counties. The company has laid 4,200km of fibred optic network across Kenya to provide n infrastructure backbone at a cost of $200m.

“We have used a combination of wireless and fixed line technologies to connect Homa Bay to the Internet backbone and roll out local county connectivity to a total investment of Sh122m,”said Head of Operations & Rollout Manager at Liquid Telecom Kenya, George Kuria.

The first phase of the Homa Bay installation connected the county headquarters and 10 county ministries to the Internet. Plans are now at an advanced stage for phase two of the project, which will equip the eight sub-counties and forty ward offices within the County, with high-speed Internet, facilitating their operation and communication with the county headquarters.

Additionally, the county is in process of procuring a Revenue Collection System as part of the set up of an Enterprise Resource planning (ERP), which, with Internet, will promote transparency, accountability and efficiency in the county revenue transactions.

“Homa Bay now enjoys a first-in-class Internet connection as well as reliable and affordable access to the Internet, all necessary for the delivery of county services to the public,” said Kuria.