The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has awarded contracts to five companies to roll out telecommunications cellular mobile network infrastructure and services in 101 sub-locations across the country.
The project is being implemented through the Universal Service Fund (USF) that seeks to avail communications services in underserved and underserved areas in Kenya.
Safaricom PLC, Airtel Networks Kenya Ltd, American Towers Company (ATC) Kenya Operations Limited, Seal Towers Limited and Alan Dick & Company (East Africa) Limited were awarded the contract to roll out the infrastructure and services in the sub locations spread across 17 marginalized counties in Kenya.
The sub locations are in Turkana, Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet, Garrissa, Isiolo, Samburu, Kajiado, Kilifi ,Kitui, Laikipia, West Pokot, Narok, Mandera, Tana River, Wajir, Lamu, and Marsabit Counties.
The five firms beat 11 other firms in a competitive tendering process valued at KSh 1.57 billion.
The awarding of the tenders now paves way for implementation of Phase 2 of the Voice Infrastructure and Services Project that will spur increased mobile voice and broadband connectivity and in effect opening new possibilities to citizens in the beneficiary areas.
“The deployment of services in the selected sub-locations will facilitate residents of beneficiary sub-locations to enjoy a host of services, including mobile voice, data, Internet and a bouquet of other value-added services, including mobile money,” said Mr. Ngene Gituku, Chairman of the CA Board of Directors.
Mr. Gituku challenged the five contractors to move with speed to ensure that they execute the project within the stipulated timeline of 24 months.
To date, the Authority has closed gaps in 74 out of the 78 sub-locations that were awarded for voice infrastructure and services development during Phase 1, covering 330,342 people across 15 counties in Kenya.
“With the additional 101-sub locations earmarked in the second phase, the Authority intends to narrow the gap of those unserved and under-served areas in Kenya by the year 2022,” said Mrs. Mercy Wanjau, the CA Ag. Director General.
Prior to the deployment of the telecommunications infrastructure through the support of the fund, residents in these remote locations had to travel long distances to make or receive calls.
‘‘Kenyans residing in the areas where these projects have been rolled out can now communicate with the external world. More importantly, the projects have expanded digital financial inclusion, enhanced governance through improved flow of information from government to the citizenry and vice versa,’’ added Mrs.Wanjau.
Besides the Voice Infrastructure Project, the other priority project that the Authority rolled out in 1st Phase of the USF is the Education Broadband Connectivity that has seen, 886 public Secondary Schools connected to broadband thus allowing integration of ICTs in learning in Kenya.
The Authority’s ICT Access Gaps Study of 2016 revealed that 5.6% of the Kenyan population (or 2.66 million people) had no access to mobile telecommunication services.
The study recommended that the Authority close the voice gaps in 348 sub-locations that were established to meet the critical performance criteria suited for “smart subsidies”, meaning that they would be sustainable in the long run.
The rollout of the USF projects is part of the wider government’s effort to ensure that all its citizens have access to modern, high-quality communication services.
The USF is primarily financed by mandatory contributions of 0.5 per cent of the gross revenue from licensed operators, which provide services in the various communications market segments, with provisions for complementary financing from other sources.