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Last mile internet connectivity in Kiambu on course

The government has finalised modalities to complete the Last Mile County Connectivity Project (LMCCP) phase IV implementation in Kiambu County within the next three weeks.

Through the Ministry of Information, Communication, and Digital Economy in conjunction with the contracted company, M/S Soulco (K), the LMCCP will establish six sites in the county for the installation of reliable, stable, and affordable high-speed internet connectivity.

This will be in addition to the 16 sites that the county has already benefited from during the implementation of Phases 1, 2, and 3 that the ICT Authority implemented to ensure that county government offices were connected to the internet to facilitate the provision of online services using telephones, emails, and teleconferencing.

Speaking during the County Kick-off Meeting in Kiambu, ICT Planning Director Pamela Ongwae said that the fourth phase will commence this month up to June 2024, and immediately the fifth phase will see the installation move to the sub-counties and wards.

“The project has three phases, namely internet connectivity, telephone, and video conferencing. People are also going to be trained on the three so that they know how to go about managing them,” she said.

Ms. Ongwae asked the government officers at the sites to cooperate and give access to the contractors when the installation starts but also promised that services and improvements would also be made to the previous connections, especially on matters of speed.

“The success of this project relies significantly on the collaboration of the stakeholders to ensure seamless implementation,” she said, noting that the government was willing to provide internet connectivity not only to the government offices but also connect over 25,000 local markets with free Wi-Fi countrywide.

On digital hubs, Ongwae said the government is providing each ward with at least one hub and working with county governments to establish structures for this.

Kiambu County Commissioner Joshua Nkanatha thanked the government for the connectivity, saying it will ease communication and also see government services in the county improved.

He called upon the contractors to work with speed so that all the offices in the county, as well as those at the sub-county and ward levels, can be connected and be able to serve residents diligently and effectively.

“In Kiambu, the Education Ministry has been suffering due to poor and lack of internet; the prisons too, and also GK prisons; these are critical ministries, and therefore I want to urge the engineers to hasten the installation,” he said.

Nkanatha said his office is ready to offer assistance whenever they are called upon during the installation process in terms of security.

Maureen Makumi from MS Soulco Company confirmed that the materials for the six sites have already been purchased and are on the ground, ready for installation.

She further said that the previous ones that were connected in earlier phases will see a bit of rehabilitation and maintenance, especially on speed, as technology has now advanced.

“We did phase two, for instance, back in 2015. A lot has happened since then; there is a lot of growth that has happened, and a lot of buildings have also come up within the last 5 and 10 years since the installation, so therefore phase 4 has the rehabilitation component,” she said.

As the country moves towards digitalization and also paperless, Makumi noted the need to also tap into better technologies, saying in phase five, which will be done at sub-county and ward levels, they will develop a mobile app so that as one moves, you can see the extension number on your phone link at offices and be able to work as you move.

She added that at the sub-county level, they had already done a survey of 1025 sites and will be able to work on the 660 that the contract stipulates, making sure they maximise the need on the ground.

“At the sub-county level, we will connect 110 sub-counties, roughly 660 sites, and during our survey, we found a way to expand the budget and do at least 752 sites. That is what is coming in phase five,” she said.

The biggest challenge that the engineers grapple with, Makumi said, is the vandalising of fibre due to excavation and groundwork done by government institutions and also companies without consulting the necessary authority so that the cables installed can be protected, which affects connectivity.

“We have been grappling with such challenges, and this contract now has 1,100 hours of training. We will go to the sub-county levels, to government departments, and to any person who needs this kind of training, not just on infrastructure but on user-level knowledge, both technical and management,” she said.

Makumi explained that phase four, whose scope is December, covers 23 counties, and Kiambu is one of the beneficiaries.

For Kiambu County, the offices mapped for extension are Kiambu GK Prison, Ministry of Education, Public Works, County Police Commander, Children’s Office, District Surveyor, Kenya News Agency (Information Office), Civil and National Registration Bureau, and Probation Offices.

The government has been working to facilitate efficient and effective provisioning of government services across the country through internet connectivity geared towards the acceleration of economic activities in line with the Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA).

By Wangari Ndirangu

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