The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) yesterday awarded Sh1.57 billion to five companies to set up infrastructure in 101 marginalised sub-locations across the country.
Safaricom, Airtel, American Towers Company (ATC), Seal Towers and Alan Dick & Company (East Africa) were awarded contracts to set up infrastructure and services under the Universal Service Fund (USF) that has since hit Sh10 billion.
“The deployment of services in the selected sub-locations will facilitate residents...to enjoy a host of services including mobile voice, data, internet and a bouquet of other value-added services, including mobile money,” said Ngene Gituku, the CA board chair.
The 101 sub-locations are spread across 19 counties including Turkana, Baringo, Garissa, Samburu, Kilifi, Kitui, West Pokot, Mandera, Wajir and Marsabit.
Safaricom won the lion’s share of the active component of the tender with 21 lots valued at Sh295 million while Airtel won five lots valued at Sh14 million.
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In the passive compenents, network infrastructure firms Alan Dick & Company and Seal Towers each won eight lots valued at Sh372.5 million and Sh165.7 million respectively.
ATC won 18 lots valued at Sh256.6 million while Airtel won two lots valued at Sh12.5 million.
Telkom Kenya did not participate in the bidding.
The five firms beat 11 bidders and have now been given two years to deploy their infrastructure, which the CA says marks the second phase of the voice infrastructure and services project under the USF.
“With the additional 101-sub locations earmarked in the second phase, the authority intends to narrow the gap of those unserved and under-served areas in Kenya by the year 2022,” said Mercy Wanjau, CA’s acting director general.
CA says the USF kitty has since hit the Sh10 billion mark and so far 74 out of the 78 sub-locations identified with connectivity gaps in the first phase have been serviced, covering 330,342 people across 15 counties.
In addition to the voice infrastructure project, CA rolled out an education broadband connectivity project that has seen 886 public secondary schools linked to the internet, with the government targeting all 8,000 public secondary schools in the long run.
“The connectivity in the 886 secondary schools enabled delivery of education online content particularly in the wake of the nationwide closure of schools as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Gituku said.
The USF is primarily financed by mandatory contributions of 0.5 per cent of the gross revenue from licensed operators, which provide services in the various communications market segments, with provisions for complementary financing from other sources.