About 68 sub-locations in the country which were previously not linked to mobile telephony have been connected to mobile network by the Communications Authority (CA) through Universal Service Fund at a cost of Sh1.2 billion.
Speaking during the launch of the first phase of the Universal Service Fund (USF) Voice Infrastructure project for the entire country in Maji-Moto in Narok South Sub-county Saturday, the Chairperson of the Fund Dr. Catherine Ngahu said that her organization’s main role is to identify gaps in communication and advice CA accordingly.
This is meant to help in ensuring that every part of the country which is not covered by the existing mobile companies for failure to provide return on investment get access to mobile services, data and internet connection to promote widespread access to information services and development.
“Currently we have connected 68 sub-locations out of the 78 sub-locations that we are targeting countrywide, during our first phase with the 10 remaining sub-locations being at different stages of competition,” she said.
The 68 sub-locations are spread in Narok, Turkana, West-Pokot, Samburu, Marsabit, Kajiado, Baringo, Isiolo, Mandera, Wajir, Garrisa, Kitui, Kilifi and Kwale counties.
According to Dr. Ngahu, under the Education Broadband Project which is also a component of the USF funded project, the authority is implementing internet connectivity to 887 public secondary schools in the 47 counties with 10 schools in Narok County already benefiting from the project.
She further reiterated that they will continue to identify gaps in communication and areas in the country with poor or no connection to mobile network so as to spur development in the areas.
Her sentiment were echoed by CA Acting Director General Mercy Wanjau who said that this initiative will go a long way in reaching remote areas in the country often shunned by existing mobile network service providers for lack of return on their investments.
“These people are now socially connected to the rest of the country and will be able to communicate and get market for their produce contrary to when they were in the dark due to lack of connection,” she added.
Communication Authority (CA) chair Mr. Ngene Gituku explained that most of the funds used in the initiative, come from communication companies which contribute a small percentage of their revenue to the Universal Service Fund and at the moment they already Sh.9 billion for the second phase which is not enough.
“I call upon other donors and well-wishers to come up and support this noble cause because we need Sh.110 billion to connect all the parts of the country which are not currently covered by the existing mobile telephony for lack of return on investment,” he added.
The event was also graced by Narok County governor Mr. Samuel Tunai who thanked the CA saying that the connection will go a long way in improving lives of people and bring development in remote areas.
Besides Maji-Moto, other areas that have been connected to mobile service under this project in Narok County include Elangata, Enterit, Enkutoto, Entasekera Hill and Olomunyari.
The schools already benefiting from the USF broadband connectivity in Narok Counties are St. Mary’s Girls, Narok Boys, Maasai Girls, Ole Tipis Girls, Oloomirani Boys, Sister Mary Stephen Nkoitoi, Olchukut Supat, Bishop Collins Davies, Kilgoris Boys and Sosio Secondary schools.
By Mabel Keya-Shikuku and Joseph Kariuki