Mr. Francis Wangusi is the Director-General of the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA). He joined the Authority in 2000 at the level of Assistant Director and rose through the ranks to his current position. He served as the Director in charge of Broadcasting and Special Projects as well as the Director in charge of Licensing, Compliance and Standards (LCS).
Prior to joining the Authority, Mr. Wangusi worked at the defunct Kenya Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (KP&TC). He also served as a Senior Lecturer at the former Kenya College for Communications Technology (KCCT) now Multimedia University College.
He holds a Masters degree in Space Sciences with specialization in Satellite Communications from the International Space University, France; a BSc in Telecommunications Engineering from the University of Rome, Italy and a Charted Engineer Part II Certificate from the Institute of Electronics Engineering, UK. He is also a holder of Global Executive Masters Degree in Business Administration (GEMBA) from the United States International University (USIU).
The Authority was established in 1999 after the enactment of the Kenya Communications Act 1998. Its mandate is to facilitate the regulation of ICT segment, promote utilization of ICT, and manage resources like frequency spectrum and domain names that pertain to development of ICT. Regulate the postal sector, broadcasting sector and manage electronic commerce. Since its formation, CA has been able to help Kenyans move from fixed lines telephones to use of mobile phones of 2G and 3G network connectivity. Besides, it has raised the number of television stations to 63 from about three stations and has a record of 134 radio stations.
Q: What services do you offer to either the industry or consumers in the area of communication and technology?
A: We are the regulatory authority for the communications sector in Kenya. Some of the services we regulate are mobile money services and data services. Due to improved infrastructure, there have been improved services in the area of broadcast, electronic transactions and courier services.
We offer protection to consumers through prefatory pricing, quality of service and handle all complaints that arise out of use of ICT services among consumers. For example, in broadcasting we have had a lot of issues due to the content provided. Sometimes the language in a medium of channel like radio is sometimes inappropriate for a certain audience like children. To tame this, we have developed a program code which helps in setting the time and manner in which broadcasters ought to deliver their content. Though it doesn’t prescribe the type of content a broadcaster ought to air. The code follows laws according to rules given by KFCB (Kenya Film Classification Board) rules and sets a tone to deal with the adverse effects faced by an audience from a broadcaster and how it is tackled. Moreover, we ensure that the vulnerable consumer is not overcharged on certain use of services being provided.
Q: What is a Spectrum Management and Monitoring System. How will it enhance access to broadband connectivity, use of wireless voice and data communication services in Kenya? Will it eliminate malicious individuals from using scarce resources illegally?
A: A spectrum is one tangible, scarce resource and a valuable asset with a very significant usage in Kenya. In order for it to be used in a coordinated manner, management of spectrum is crucial. The main importance of having the system is carrying out certain spectrum management activities including pricing, coordination, monitoring and planning.
Kenya shares the spectrum at international levels with neighbouring countries hence; broadcast emissions should not cross over to interfere with another country’s spectrum. For this reason, it is imperative to carry out serious spectrum management. We also apportion the spectrum for various services in a bid to share a segment in services we specialize in.
We ensure that the spectrum is properly planned, clean and managed through monitoring to avoid it being used for unwanted services making the regulator to incorporate a specialized spectrum management tool. The tool is referred to as the Spectrum Management and Monitoring System. Since our inception, we have had three types of spectrum,2G, 3G and 4G network access that have assisted in broadband reach. By use of the tool, Kenyans have been made aware of the spectrum accessibility, which has aided in rolling out 3G network access and mobile voice communication. Recently, we released the 4G network with high, efficient and fast internet speed.
We may not entirely eliminate malicious individuals from using the spectrum illegally using the tool, but we make sure we minimize any form of interference or unlicensed usage of the spectrum.
Q: Let us talk about universal access, what is its purpose? What has the Authority done to ensure deployment of communication infrastructure and services in areas that have been seen to be under served or un-served? What are some of the projects under the Universal Access program?
A: Commercial operators and service providers concentrate their operations in areas where good return on investment is assured. So as an Authority we decided to close the access gap in communication by obligating service providers to stretch to areas that are scarcely populated and of low investment so that customers can also benefit from their services. However, the speed of closing the gap was slow due to lack of proper infrastructure and access to communication services. As a result, we incepted the universal access program to be taken up by service providers so as to close the access gap.
Moreover, as an Authority we have undertaken some pilot projects in certain parts of the country. The projects include the establishment of 16 school-based ICT centres across eight regions of the country, four tele-centres and eight centres for persons with disabilities. In order to enhance access and promote capacity building in ICT, we have partnered with the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development ( Formerly Kenya Institute of Education) to support the digitalization of the secondary school curriculum.
Q: The Authority is developing the Universal Service Fund (USF) Framework in line with the provision of the Sector Legislation. Has this been done and how will it assist in improving the ICT sector?
A: USF was established under the Kenya Communications Act 2009 to help the Authority in bridging ICT access gap. The main objective of the Fund is to support widespread access to ICT services, promote capacity building and innovation in ICT services in the country. The Fund, currently being put in place, is expected to finance national projects that have significant impact on the availability and accessibility of ICTs in rural, remote and poor urban areas.
The sources of the Fund come from licensees, appropriations from Government as well as grants and donations. To date, we have so far accumulated KES3.9 billion from USF in 2015 to close the ICT access gap but in the coming year, we intend to amass KES1.5 billion in carrying out the activity.
Q: Give us more information about the ICT access gap study. Has the study been published and what does it say?
A: The ICT access gap study helps the Authority to identify which areas are still experiencing a gap. This can help in concentrating more efforts in closing them. Two access gap studies have been carried out in 2010 and 2015. The ICT Access Gaps Study conducted in 2010 helped to identify voice gaps in 1,119 sub locations, data gaps in 4,375 sub locations and a deficit of 147 sub post offices. Looking at certain statistics, we can say that 94.4 and 60 per cent of Kenyans have access to 2G and 3G networks respectively.
The 2015 report launched in April reported that the number of active mobile subscribers rose to 37.5 million from 25 million active mobile subscribers. In addition, 1,119 sub-locations did not have communications services then, according to the report, at the moment, only 164 sub-locations lack coverage.
The studies provide us with a mechanism to be able to close the remaining gap. One of the solutions recommended is continuous use of the Universal Service Fund. Secondly, we are looking forward to recommend free spectrum services in certain areas for operators to enable roll out of networks faster. Finally, we are compelling operators to cover certain areas within the period of their license.
Q: What are some of the cyber threats facing Kenya and how can they be prevented?
A: Cyber threat in Kenya is eminent just like in any other state across the globe. The threats range from those targeting children to cyber crimes that involve cyber manipulations like use of certain malware to access sensitive information. To tame this, we have engaged in several collaborative frameworks with International Telecommunications Union (ITU), International Multinational partnerships against cyber threats. Moreover, we conduct forums either locally or within the region by working with computer response teams across East Africa. For instance, at CA, we have formed a computer instant response team known as the nation center to help in minimizing any form of cyber crimes. We have also developed a forensic laboratory to identify some of these crimes and later prosecute them. Presently, we are in the process of developing a proactive phase that will involve putting up some sensors at international gateways to forewarn users of ICT equipments on cyber threats.
Q: How is the digital migration process, has it been successful as expected or a failure?
A: Digital migration has indeed been a successful project. It has led to the expansion of the scope of television services. As at now, Kenya has 63 free to air television stations, about four to five subscription tv services and a rise in programming services.
The number of Kenyans viewing television has increased to 5.8 million households who are using set top boxes. Already, we have allocated Safaricom and Airtel a spectrum to begin piloting their 4G network to increase broadband connectivity.
Q: What are some of the barriers that you are trying to overcome as you provide different types of information or data
A: There have been quite a number of challenges. The uptake of digital migration was slow but at the end successful. We carry out awareness campaigns that are sometimes very expensive due to lack of own outlets. This hinders our ways of carrying out the campaigns due to limitations in budget. This has also derailed us from performing our mandate of ensuring our customers get quality services and its significance.
Q: Does the Authority employ engineers and what do they do?
A: Yes we do. Engineers do bulk of the work on regulation. They also engage in managing the frequency spectrum, set standards and type-approve equipments to be used for telecommunication services in accordance to the standards set. They also monitor the emissions emanating from broadcasting stations. We employ software and hardware engineers who deal with certain intricacies that arise in the process of using different ICT services.
Q: What is the role of Innovation and ICT in achieving Kenya’s Vision 2030(KV2030)?
A: The first role that ICT and innovation plays in achieving Vision 2030 is acting as a supporting pillar to the economy. This can be achieved by provision of specific ICT services. Secondly, ICT is the center piece of driving Kenya’s Vision 2030 by creating job opportunities with emerging applications inventions driving the economy forward.
Communications Authority plans to set up more offices across the country to address the growing need of ICT services whilst increasing awareness of its services to consumers. In 2015, they opened their offices in Eldoret and Mombasa and are in the process of extending their services to Nyeri and other towns in its next budget. This will abet improve on provision of quality spectrum to monitor what is happening.
This is an over the top service provided on the internet that CA is not licensing at the moment. Though, if it is converted from Internet Protocol (IP) to ordinary analog technology, it can be viewed via ordinary television sets then it will become under the microscope of regulatory watch. Today, Netflix is being picked by devices such as tablets and smartphones that are not regulated by Communications Authority in terms of accessing internet services. However, CA is revising its policy in order to be able to take care of the intrusion of services such as Netflix.