The government is keen on increasing access to broadband services as it moves to roll out e-government services like video conferencing facilities in education, health and judiciary sectors in a bid to improve delivery of services across the country. This was announced during the Huawei Technologies and ICT Authority Broader Way forum 2015 in Nairobi.
The event which attracted delegates and various stakeholders from the telecommunication, networking and mobile industries sought to discuss main challenges facing broadband networks in Kenya and how they can be improved for better connection speeds. Some of the challenges discussed involved regulations and infrastructure, and how government policies can be efficiently employed to facilitate the delivery of a digital society.
Opening the event was Dean Yu, CEO Huawei Technologies Kenya, who shared Huawei’s vision of a better connected world, and discussed the new vision of broadband 2020 from the perspective of government, industry and customers, and its benefits to Kenya. Drawing on the company’s experience in developing high-speed networks across the world, Huawei Technologies used the forum as an avenue to encourage debates around key challenges facing broadband networks in Kenya and how to address them.
In his keynote speech, Dr. Fred Matiang’i, former Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Information Communications and Technology urged for the need to lower broadband costs through concerted efforts by all stakeholders. The CS emphasized the need to ensure that every part of the country has access to the internet and that this is made possible through subsidizing broadband access by working closely with the providers to make sure at least everyone in the country can afford to be connected.
ICT Authority representatives admitted that if the existing challenges are eliminated then Kenya will rise in use of new technologies and digital migration to create room for entrepreneurship. This would encourage growth of the economy.
“The Authority has a role to play in dealing with issues experienced in tackling broadband challenges. We are trying to see how as a government agency, this can be facilitated easily and effectively and am sure after this forum, we will have identified clear actions or solutions that we can leverage on to promote infrastructure development,” stated ICT Authority, Director of Partnerships, Innovations and Capacity Development, Eunice Kariuki.
Additionally, panelists discussed on the National Optic Fibre Backbone Infrastructure (NOFBI), a project being implemented by the ICT Authority for the Ministry of ICT which aims at ensuring connectivity in all the 47 counties. The implementation of this project aims to ease communication across counties as well as improve government service delivery to the citizens The KES6bn project once fully implemented will cover 2100 kilometers in all 47 Counties.
Telecommunications Company Huawei was awarded the contract to build a national fiber optic infrastructure to connect Nairobi with other key towns in the country. The project is jointly funded by the Government of Kenya and a loan from the Chinese Government.
In 2009, Phase 1 of the project was completed with access points in most of the district headquarters and some border towns. This fibre cable covered a distance of 4,300km. NOFBI Phase 2 was to further increase the coverage and safety protection of the existing transmission network, so as to enable the local government departments of the 47 counties to form an efficient transmission network with the central government. This was to cover a distance of 2,100 km and is currently under implementation and should be operational in Dec 2015. 18 counties are remaining and they ought to be completed by December 2015.
In conclusion, a bill that will compel operators to share their infrastructure is underway as the government stresses on the need for sharing telecommunication networks to optimize use of existing infrastructure rather than building competing networks.