Data, voice and IP provider, Liquid Telecom Kenya has said it’s installing a $2 million (Ksh175 million) fiber optic network in Siaya County,as part its plan to invest $50 million dollars in partnerships to connect more counties in the next 24 months to high speed internet.
The first its kind in rural Kenya, the deal is expected to connect underserved areas in Kenya though a Wide Area Network (WAN) concept, linking county headquarters to sub counties and wards with a connection back to the central government to allow Internet users in the county reliable and affordable access to local and global websites.
According to Nic Rudnick, Liquid Telecom Group CEO, “Rural Internet connectivity is rather poor in Kenya due to lack of infrastructure. What LTK primarily seeks to achieve in the partnership with the Siaya County government is open up the county to new business opportunities and improve government functionality,” said “There are vast human and capital resources lying idle in Siaya. Connecting the county to the rest of Kenya and the world will in turn enable businesses and the county government register increased productivity at reduced costs.”
The installation process will see 50 staff employed with further roles being created to handle maintenance of fibre optics and wireless networks in the county.
Through the installation of world class infrastructure courtesy of LTKs fibre network, Siaya is also set to win investor confidence even as the county seeks to position itself as an educational and agricultural. The county is home to a number of university and tertiary institutions, most notably Bondo University College and Siaya Institute of Technology, which rely heavily on the Internet in the acquisition and transfer of knowledge and skills. The county government has also been liaising with a number of USA-based education establishments and universities such as the University of Florida on streaming lectures and lessons and other content to schools in the county.
This is welcome news. According to the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) statistics released in 2014, Internet penetration in Kenya stands at 52.3 per cent, making the penetration in the country among the most enviable across the region. However penetration in rural areas has remained dismal locking out rural businesses and people from business, trade and employment opportunities experienced elsewhere.
In Kenya Internet connectivity, as it stands, contributes to 2.9 per cent of Kenya’s GDP. The improvement of Internet infrastructure in Siaya, like in many parts of Senegal and India, is poised to trigger an increase in business activity while being a magnet for investors who counts on requisite infrastructure like internet to set up shop. This, in addition to firms seeking to meet the demands of their target markets and eased communication links, will result in employment creation within the county as firms set up operations in Siaya. A number of foreign and local investors including NGOs and service firms such as banks are expected to expand operations into the county following improved Internet infrastructure.
Liquid Telecom Group, the parent company, has positioned itself as one of biggest investor in Africa’s Internet connectivity. In East Africa, the firm has invested $20 million (Ksh1.75 billion) which has seen the installation of 17,000 kilometres of fibre optic cable across Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi, the largest of its kind in Africa. This has ensured high speeds and continuous uptime for internet users.