The Communications Authority of Kenya is the regulatory authority for the communications sector in Kenya. Established in 1999 by the Kenya Information and Communications Act, 1998, the Authority is responsible for facilitating the development of the Information and Communications sectors including broadcasting, multimedia, telecommunications, electronic commerce, cyber security, postal and courier services.
What is the role of innovation and ICT in achieving Kenya’s Vision 2030?
Kenya Vision 2030, aims to create a globally competitive and prosperous country with a high quality of life by 2030. It aims at transforming Kenya into a newly industrializing middle income country providing a high quality of life to all its citizens in a clean and secure environment.
The Vision recognizes the role of science, technology (including ICTs), and innovation (STI) in a modern economy, in which new knowledge plays a central role in wealth creation, social welfare and international competitiveness through effective exploitation of knowledge, an effective innovation system and flourishing entrepreneurship, among others.
The Vision 2030 proposes intensified application of ICTs and innovation to raise productivity and efficiency levels across the three pillars. The ICT sector is dynamic and the Government regularly reviews ICT policies to resonate with the rapid technological advances, changing public needs and evolving global trends. The overarching focus is to provide access to ICTs, especially broadband to all Kenyans through high-speed secure and universal new generation information technology infrastructure and enhancing cyber security.
By harnessing the power of the Internet, enterprises are expected to improve their sourcing, sales and logistics systems; streamline operations; identify and track market trends and boost their marketing, research and innovation capabilities towards the achievement of Vision 2030.
What services do you offer to either the industry or consumers in the area of communication and technology?
Communications Authority has the mandate to license all systems and services in the communication industry including telecommunications postal and courier and broadcasting. This involves managing the country’s frequency and numbering resources and approving and accepting communications equipment to be used in the country. In a bid to protect interests of the consumer the Authority protects consumer rights, manages competition to ensure level playing ground and regulate retail and wholesale tariffs for communication services. The organization also facilitates e- commerce, manage universal access fund to facilitate access to communications services by all in Kenya. Finally, we monitor activities of those licensed providers to enforce compliance and also monitor cyber security incidents.
What are some of the Consumer Outreach programmes that you are undertaking to keep them aware of the issues directly affecting them?
The Authority engages its consumers through various forums. These include the County ICT Consumer Forums, The ASK shows and various stakeholder engagement forums that are held from time to time. The Authority also has a complaints handling procedure where the consumer can lodge a complaint. CA also carries out Consumer Education programmes generally aimed at encouraging individuals to analyze and make value-based decisions at a personal and community level. It involves the transferability of skills conferred by consumer education. It also enables consumers make informed decisions and it is the single most effective mechanism that provides and guarantees consumer protection. This programme empowers consumers of communication services and equips them with skills and knowledge to enable them make better decisions in the purchasing and use of communication services.
The Authority has increasingly placed more emphasis on Consumer Awareness and Education and has used a variety of consumer protection initiatives to create awareness among consumers. The following are some of the components of consumer education/outreach programmes:
Kikao Kikuu Programs– The forum’s main objective is to create a platform for dialogue between Authority, County Governments, service providers, consumer organizations, academic institutions and consumers of ICT. The County Governments are also encouraged to leverage on these platforms to showcase their own initiatives in ICT. These forums are fully supported by road show across the county, media, PR and publicity support in both print and electronic media.
Child Online Protection– a Child Online Protection Campaign dubbed ‘BE THE COP’. The Campaign was developed in collaboration with partners seeking the support and participation of other important stakeholders in addressing child online protection issues. The main areas of focus for COP include Outreach programs in schools; training and capacity building; advertising and publicity; partnership and support of industry initiatives; development of Technical Tools for consumer education.
Chukua hatua– a campaign on sensitization of consumers of ICT especially mobile and Internet users on their rights and responsibilities when purchasing and using communication services in order for them to get value for their money.
Kaa Macho– a campaign that targets postal and courier consumers to enable them to interpret available information and make informed discerning and responsible choices and create awareness on issues affecting the Postal and Courier sector amongst consumers.
Namba yangu milele– a campaign that was designed to inform customers on procedures for portability of their numbers to the service provider of their choice and still retain their original number.
What is the National Broadband Strategy and how is it being implemented as a Kenya Vision 2030 element?
The National Broadband Strategy (NBS) is a long-term national plan whose objective is to facilitate uptake of broadband services for socio-economic transformation of the country and is expected to contribute to Kenya’s goal of becoming a true knowledge-based economy by the year 2030. The overall objective of this Strategy is to provide quality broadband services to all citizens.
At the centre stage is access to broadband connectivity, which translates into economic growth, employment and investment opportunities and improved service delivery. It provides a roadmap to achieving availability of high-speed broadband networks and ensuring connectivity to individuals, households and public institutions including schools, health centres and Government agencies. The National Broadband Strategy was developed through a collaborative framework between the Communications Authority of Kenya and the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MoICT) together with key stakeholders in the ICT industry.
Kenya’s Vision 2030 recognizes ICT as an enabler of socio-economic development and anchors some of its key aspirations upon the availability and adoption of broadband technologies. The National Broadband Strategy was subsequently launched in July 2013 and handed over to the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology. The NBS is set to be implemented between 2013 and 2030. The following five key issues are core to national broadband development, and as such form the basis for developing the 1st National Broadband Strategy 2013-17 and the Revised National Broadband Strategy (2017-2022):
- Infrastructure, Connectivity and Devices
- Content, Applications and Innovation
- Capacity Building and Awareness
- Policy, Legal and Regulatory Environment
- Financing and Investment
Give us more information about the National ICT survey, has it been published this year and what does it say?
The Authority and the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics jointly carried out a National ICT survey in 2016 with technical assistance from United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
The objective of the study was to measure access to and use of ICTs in Public Institutions and Business Enterprises. The National ICT Survey produced two reports namely, The Public Sector ICT Survey Report 2016 and The Enterprise ICT Survey 2016
The reports, published in April 2017, provided a baseline for indicators such as availability of, access to and use of ICT infrastructure, applications, and services. The key focus was mainly on access to and use of e-government, e-procurement and e-commerce platforms.
What were some of the key findings in these reports?
Some of the key findings included:
- Business Enterprises recorded higher mobile phone usage at 85.7% as compared to Public Institution which recorded 65.8%.
- The proportion of Enterprises and Public Institutions with an active mobile payment account stood at 72.7% and 20.7% respectively.
- Business Enterprises recorded higher Internet Connectivity at 84.2% compared to Public Institutions that recorded internet connectivity of 80.2%.
- A higher proportion of Public institutions (48.1 per cent) had ICT management policies in place compared to enterprises (37.0 per cent)
- The baseline e-commerce index stood at 39.0%
- The study also demonstrated that at least 26.9% of Public Institutions and 14.6% of Enterprises were aware of the National KE-CIRT/CC which is resident at the Authority.
- The proportion of Enterprises and Public Institutions with an ICT Security Policy stood at 35.9% and 43.4% respectively.
Give us an update on the development of the Universal Service Fund (USF) framework in line with the provision of the sector legislation.
The Kenya Information and Communications Act, 2009, established the Universal Service Fund whose objective is to support widespread access to ICT services, capacity building and promote innovation in information and communications technology services. The USF was established in 2009 but contributions to the Fund began in 2013/14 financial year.
The Act mandates the Communications Authority of Kenya to manage and administer the USF with the Universal Service Advisory Council (USAC) playing an advisory role. The Fund is financed by mandatory contributions from licensed operators in the various communications market segments. The licensees are charged a universal service levy of 0.5%.
During the 2015/16 FY, the Authority undertook an Access Gaps study which aimed at conducting a country level assessment to determine the extent of communication coverage and access levels by citizens in the telecommunications, postal and courier and broadcasting sectors. The study also sought to determine the gaps in infrastructure and service coverage across all sub-locations in Kenya as well as proposing appropriate strategies for bridging digital divides in the country.
The 2016 ICT Access Gaps study had various deliverable which are expected to shape the funding and future implementation of projects. These deliverables included Financial Spreadsheet Model for subsidy calculation, Online ICT Access Gaps Portal, Tender and award of initial USF Projects, USF Operating Manual and USF Strategic Plan. To guide the implementation of the USF, the Authority has developed a five-year USF Strategy and a USF Operating Manual.
Based on the findings, to address the identified gaps, the study recommended implementation of voice infrastructure and services project in 202 sub-locations and education broadband connectivity project to 896 secondary schools during the first phase of USF implementation (FY2017/18). A budget of Sh1.5 million was allocated during the first phase of the project.
In the financial year 2016/17, the Authority floated tenders for voice infrastructure and education broadband connectivity project. Two firms (Safaricom Ltd and Telkom Ltd) were awarded tender for voice infrastructure project in 78 sub-locations and 3 firms (M/s Liquid Telecom Kenya Ltd., Commcarrier Ltd. and M/s Xtranet Communications Ltd.) were awarded tender for supply, installation, testing and commissioning of the education broadband project. To date, the Authority through the contracted firms, has successfully installed broadband connectivity in 525 (58.6%) of the expected 896 beneficiary schools. Of the 78 project sites awarded to the two licensees, 6 sites are already on air while site mobilization and construction are projected to run from early November to late April 2018; site integration and commissioning in mid-December 2017 and May 2018 and handing over in early June 2018.
The Authority is in the process of implementing the second phase of the Universal Service Fund.
According to 2017 edition of the Economic Survey, the contribution of the local ICT sector to the growth of GDP was recorded at 6.1%. How is the Authority ensuring that the ICT sector continues being vibrant and relevant to the country?
To sustain the sector’s contribution to GDP, the Authority shall facilitate a review of the regulatory regime to sustain and enhance vibrancy in the ICT industry. The Authority shall also continue building the capacity of its officers, enhancing regulatory tools and benchmarking with international industry standards. To enhance competition in the sector, the Authority shall continue licensing new players in the market to avoid monopolistic tendencies.
The ICT industry is dynamic and rapidly evolving, what are some of the policy changes and regulatory practices that are being put in place to accommodate this?
It is true that the ICT industry is dynamic and rapidly evolving. In response, the Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology in consultation with stakeholders is spearheading the review of the National ICT Policy Guidelines of 2006 with a view to aligning the policy with emerging technological trends and developments in the sector.
Subsequently, a review of the Kenya Information and Communications Act (as amended) will be undertaken to ensure that this legislation is aligned with the revised Policy. The said review shall be undertaken in consultation with stakeholders. The Authority, however, remains cognizant of the fact that the legal and policy framework will always have to play catch up due to the rapid technological evolution of ICTs.
It is also important to note that the Authority is the designated Government representative to various ICT regional, continental and international bodies to which Kenya is affiliated. Participation The Authority is therefore involved in key decisions made by the said bodies which are extremely useful in the dynamic sector.
What are some of the barriers that you are trying to overcome as you provide different types of information or data?
The end users of the data/information may not be familiar with the methodologies used to compute for the various indicators.
The change in the countries administrative system from the initial province system to the current County system has also posed a big challenge as the operators who are the key source of the data may require to re-configure their systems to align them with the new administrative system.
Most of the ICT indicators may only be collected at the National Level due to the nature of the various technologies e.g. mobile subscriptions by urban and rural segmentation.
There is lack of standard definitions and methodologies of calculating some indicators due to the dynamic nature of the industry e.g. the definitions for mobile money indicators are still being developed at the international level.
Some of the data collected is regarded as highly confidential as it has the capacity to expose the Business Models of the various operators hence cannot be shared with third parties or published.
Some of the current International Standard Methodologies are outdated and require immediate review in order to reflect the current position of various ICT services across the globe.
What is the role of engineers in the Authority?
The role of engineers in the Authority are diverse. Our engineers develop and maintain regulatory tools, interpret and give recommendations on inspection results. They are in charge of developing standards and specifications for the various equipment and systems. Our engineers are also required to monitor and inspect facilities to ensure they are adhering to set standards. Additionally, engineers carry out technical compatibility analysis. Finally, they are in charge of research and strategies to address emerging issues within the communications sector.