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Gov’t installs telecommunication masts in Tana River

The Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) has commenced the construction of telecommunication masts in four sub-locations in Tana River County through phase II of the Universal Service Fund (USF) to avail mobile communication services.

Principal Administrative Secretary, Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs Erick Kiraithe addressing journalists at a Hola hotel. Photo by Sadik Hassan

The Authority is now in the process of implementing the Phase II of the mobile connectivity project to avail mobile communication services to 101 un-served and underserved sub-locations spread across 19 counties in Kenya. The rollout of the project has begun.

The four sub-locations that have been earmarked to benefit from mobile connectivity are Titila, Kamaguru, Oldowan, and Walsorhea. The residents will benefit from the transformation that will be brought about by mobile communications services.

Speaking to journalists at a Hola hotel today, Principal Administrative Secretary, Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs Erick Kiraithe said the USF targets un-served and underserved areas, which were mostly remote.

Kiraithe revealed that they were racing against time to ensure the four telecommunication masts were working before the General Election.

“Our aim as the government is to ensure by June, the mast will be live and working. The one in Titila was affected by rain and stalled,” said Kiraithe, adding that they would carry out surveys after the second phase to establish gaps.

“After the installation of the four masts we will have received feedback from government officials on the gaps. We are targeting 60 per cent geographical coverage (in Tana River) by the end of the third phase next year,” he said.

Kiraithe urged the society to jealously protect the infrastructures being set up by the government in their localities from vandalism as has happened in other areas where the communication equipment have been vandalized and sold in neighbouring countries resulting in huge financial losses.

“We want the society to take full ownership of the project. We want feedback from the public in areas with gaps as we head for the third phase of the USF project,” said the PS.

Godfrey Muhatia, Manager, Universal Service Projects said the government created the fund in 2009 to provide support to service providers to roll out services in high cost and remote areas.

“The law allows the Communication Authority to actually get one per cent of the gross turnover from all licensees,” said Muhatia adding that in 2016 they did an ICT access gap study which identified the gaps in 348 sub-locations that didn’t have mobile services.

He said CA is not targeting one service provider but one tower that could support four service providers thus the communities can choose the network they want.

CA in phase I implemented the Education Broadband Connectivity Project which had targeted to connect public secondary schools with high-speed Internet.

The Authority connected 884 public secondary schools across the 47 Counties to high-speed Internet. Madogo and Tarasaa secondary schools were the beneficiaries in Tana River County.

In mobile connectivity, the Authority has so far connected 78 Sub locations, covering 330,342 people spread across 15 counties in Kenya.

By Sadik Hassan

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