Kara in collaboration with Safaricom PLC hosted a Webinar to discuss the current trend of internet access in Kenya and the impact it has on service delivery and development.

The theme of the webinar was “Attaining universal internet connectivity in Kenya: What measures should be put in place?” Speakers who addressed the Webinar were Ms. Karimi Ruria, Senior Manager, Public Policy, Safaricom PLC; Dr. Emma Ann Otieno, Manager, Fund Mobilization & Management, Universal Service Fund, Communications Authority of Kenya and Ms. Maureen Mbaka, Chief Administrative Secretary, Ministry of ICT, Innovation & Youth Affairs. 

Ms. Karimi stated that Safaricom’s main purpose is to transform lives of Kenyans by improving access and usage of ICT services. She pointed out that the company has consistently been developing its networks (2G,3G & 4G) infrastructures, to ensure a large portion of the country is connected and covered with internet. She highlighted some of the efforts that have been made to advance universal internet access in Kenya, which include; establishment of the universal service fund which enabled Safaricom to build 50 base stations in areas that had less network coverage i.e. in North Eastern, Rift valley, Kitui, Coast and Lamu regions; establishment of fiber networks to provide internet access to both homes and enterprises and, the provision of affordable mobile handsets through the ‘Lipa Mdogo Mdogo’ service to enable majority of Kenyans access the internet. She also highlighted some of the challenges faced by Safaricom towards provision of internet services in the country which include; Lack of electricity and road network infrastructure in some regions. To address these challenges, Ms. Karimi recommended that there was need for both levels of Government to provide complimenting infrastructures to accelerate network coverage. She also said that there was need to promote digital literacy skills in the communities to deepen use of internet.

Dr. Otieno gave highlights of some of the measures put in place by the Communications Authority towards achieving Universal Access & Services to ICTs. These include; establishment of the Universal Service Fund aimed at providing incentives and subsidies to encourage investments in ICT Sector; Private Public Partnership to provide technical assistance in deployment of ICT projects; Regulation and Market based reforms that have led to adoption of Unified Licensing Framework.She also highlighted some of the on-going Programs & Projects by the authority to enhance Universal Access & Services, which includes; Roll out of the Voice and Data Infrastructure 3G/4G Project Phases III & IV; Supporting Digitization of essential Public Service Delivery Projects in the Judiciary, National Police Service and Ministry of Health; Development of Education Content in partnership with Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development; Education Broadband projects in partnership with Ministry of Education and enhancing Regulatory reforms for instance in ICT Infrastructure Sharing,  Emerging Technology, Development of  5G Strategy.  She noted that the key challenges faced by the Authority in implementing Universal Access & Service Programmes included;Delays in partnership formalization; Inadequate basic infrastructure in hard-to-serve areas;Destruction/Vandalism of ICT Infrastructures;  slow pace of regulatory reforms and Community resistance to ICT projects. Dr. Otieno concluded her presentation by calling on all stakeholders to collaborate and advocate for enabling regulatory environment in ICT capacity-building, online safety and security, so as to enhance Universal access to internet in Kenya

Ms. Mbaka stated that access to the internet has come a long way in Kenya, and has become very essential for service delivery.She said that the Government through the Ministry of ICT, has been at the fore front of ensuring that there is an enabling environment to facilitate internet connectivity so that as many people as possible can have access to internet. “Deliberate strategies have been put in place to prioritize the development and expansion of infrastructure, human capital resources and re-engineering of policy and legislative frameworks to facilitate access to internet” she said. She pointed out that Legislative and policy frameworks have also been reviewed to accommodate the increased use of internet. These include putting in place policies on Internet access, cyber security, data protection, artificial intelligence, broadband among others. She added that the Government is collaborating with private sector companies to support capacity building programs for the youth to be able to make use of internet, through Ajira Platform to provide solutions to society challenges, and to also provide additional last mile broadband connectivity across the country. She called upon the stakeholders in the various sectors to continue investing in the ICTs toenable universal internet access in Kenya.

You can find a link to the webinar here: