DP Ruto: Government concerned about high cost of data, calls on operators to bring it down

Deputy President William Ruto. PHOTO: FILE

NAIROBI: Deputy President William Ruto on Friday said the government is much concerned with the high cost of data in the country, even as he expressed state’s commitment in creating an inclusive data ecosystem for sustainable development.

Mr Ruto said that while the cost of mobile handset had dramatically gone down, that of data had increased, making access to information expensive.

“A key concern of government is the cost of data in Kenya. The average mobile phone consumer in Kenya is spending 10 per cent for airtime in order to simply communicate,” said Ruto.

The deputy president who was presiding over the launch of National Data Forum on Sustainable Development noted, “While the cost of mobile handset has dramatically gone down over the years, the cost of data has increased, making it impossible for the power of data revolution to take place in the country.”

He challenged the operators to work with government to bring down the cost of data to enable more Kenyans interacts.

“Legislators must also think about how laws can enhance data reciprocity, enabling individuals to own and monetize their own information,” continued Ruto.

He also told Kenya National Bureau of Statistics to double its efforts and foster integrated relations with other data producers.

“Additionally, in line with the Africa Data Consensus adopted early this year in Addis Ababa, KNBS should develop greater capacity for oversight, audit, standard setting and coordination of the multiple players in the data production industry,” he added.

Ruto told the two-day forum that the government is working on enhancing internet security to manage the risk of individuals transacting through the internet by strengthening the country’s cybercrime law and institutional response.

Ruto said it was unfortunate that basic data like births and deaths, the size of the labour force and the number of children are still not readily available crippling the government’s ability to serve its citizen.

Kakamega Governor Wycliff Oparanya – who is also the chairman of Council of Governors Finance Committee – said data harnessing is key to the realisation of sustainable development goals (SDGs).

He said data revolution is even more important in the allocation of funds to the county governments.

“With the devolution, accurate data is critical as we will be able to get proper figures in determining poverty index in different parts of the country,” said Mr Oparanya.

He challenged the national government to take data collection seriously for the growth of the country.

“Most counties do not have capacity to collect data and I want to tell the national government that we need support,” he added.

Environment, Natural Resources and Regional Development CS Judy Wakhungu said although the use of data was still relatively new, it will help in evaluating policies.