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Cabinet secretaries in drive to lower phone prices

by Susan Mwenesi
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mobile subscriptionPhone prices in Kenya could come down if talks between ICT secretary Fred Matiang’i and cabinet colleague Henry Rotich on the best measures to substantially reduce the cost of handsets bear fruit.

The Business Daily reports that it is expected that this will result in the penetration of the gadgets in the rural areas as well as in the lower income segments areas.

“As we move to the future, more people will be accessing information through their handsets than personal computers. This may not be possible for all as the prices of smartphones are out of reach of many,” Dr Matiang’i said.

He however intimated that a study had been agreed upon to that will help to decide on the measures for reducing the cost of handsets from July next year.

“As a government, we are going to do a study that will inform our decision to bring down the costs. This can only happen in the next financial year,” Dr Matiang’i told the Business Daily.

The government’s fiscal year runs from July but the budget for the cycle that starts tomorrow has already been done, meaning the earliest subscribers can enjoy cheaper smartphones is July 2015.

Additionally, the government will be seeking to increase mobile penetration from 75.8 per cent to 90 per cent by 2018, enabling it deliver services online to cut down on paper, hands and to curb corruption.
Dr Matiang’i said more affordable handsets would enable end users utilise the broadband capacity that has been installed by telephone companies.

“A strong ICT infrastructure is of no use if people cannot access it. That is why we are also asking the handset manufacturers to bring down their prices as they await the government’s decision,” he added.

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