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Free Wi-Fi hotspots in progress

The Government is set to install over 25,000 Wi-Fi hotspots across the country, as part of the digital acceleration programme, to extend the internet to remote areas.

Cabinet Secretary (CS), Ministry of Information, Communications, and the Digital Economy, Eliud Owalo, says the free internet will make it easier for the public to access and apply for government e-services.

CS Owalo says the public Wi-Fi project is part of the current Kenya Kwanza Administration’s effort to make the government work for all and sundry.

He says the proliferation of public Wi-Fi projects across the 47 counties will unleash an internet revolution in the country and empower ordinary Kenyans.

“The move is to ensure Kenyans from all walks of life are not left out of the digital revolution and have access to digital services from government and private institutions with ease,” he said.

He says the public Wi-Fi hotspots connected with faster internet speeds seek to benefit the general public as they pursue their daily socio-economic activities.

“It’s our expectation that this will, in the long run, also create online jobs for the youth,” he said.

The CS noted that the free Wi-Fi project comes at a time when over 5,000 digitised government services are available on the e-citizen platform.

Mr. Owalo was speaking in Kwale County during the unveiling of a free public Wi-Fi hotspot at Diani Market.

The event was also attended by area Governor Fatuma Achani, ICT Authority Board Chairman, Sylvanus Maritim, and UDA-nominated Senator Miraj Abdillahi.

The Minister said the Kenya Kwanza Administration pledged to deliver the free Wi-Fi project to Kenyans last year during the electioneering period.

Owalo says his Ministry is repositioning its socio-economic activities as it seeks to achieve the Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA) plan, as outlined by President William Ruto.

He says the proliferation of public Wi-Fi networks in public spaces will not only create employment, but also enhance disposable incomes in the hands of small-scale traders.

Owalo said the ICT Ministry was running the Ajira and Jitume digital programmes, which seek to help young people get the required skills to secure jobs online.

He said the programmes are an initiative that aims to introduce the youth to ICT and provide them the tools, training, and mentorship needed for them to work and earn a decent income through online jobs.

Owalo says the government is working closely with global tech giants to assemble and manufacture low-cost smartphones in the country to enhance mobile phone connectivity.

“The low-cost mobile phone device will ensure ordinary Kenyans have digital access to government services and business platforms,” said Owalo.

The ICT Minister says the country aspires to improve its e-commerce competitiveness by revamping and accelerating digital transformation programmes.

ICT Authority Board Chairman, Sylvanus Maritim, says his Board is determined to deliver affordable and seamless internet connectivity to Kenyans.

“We want Kenyans, especially the youth, to exploit the growth and opportunities that are found in the connected world,” he said.

Miritim says the ICT Authority is leveraging the national fibre optic infrastructure to support the free WI-FI hotspots project.

He said the spread of the fibre optic network across the counties and the rise of the internet will enable many Kenyans to formalise their businesses and embrace e-commerce, thus enlarging the base of their clientele.

“By providing last-mile internet connectivity, we are out to help small-scale businesspeople catalyse e-commerce for employment and wealth creation,” said Miritim.

“Anyone can log on to the internet using the WiFi provided by the government of Kenya as long as they are in the vicinity of a public space linked to the internet,” he went on.

Governor Achani said she was happy with the development of providing internet services to the people at the grassroots.

Achani said the 47 devolved units were investing heavily in ICT, in order to automate revenue management and enhance service delivery.

She said the counties have fully embraced ICT technologies in revenue management solutions, to seal corruption loopholes.

By Hussein Abdullahi

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