Kenyan media and telecommunication firm are now no longer subjected to pay Ksh. 1 billion that was to be part of their contribution to fund the government project that is looking to spread communication services in rural areas.
It was decided that Posta Safaricom, Airtel, Nation Media Group were to pay Universal Service Fund (USF) 0.005 percent of their gross revenue which will in turn add up to the 1 billion shillings that they were to give.
Media firms and telcos have been demanding a review of the study.
Ben Gituku, Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) chairman, said on Friday the ICT Access Gaps study of 2011 conducted by the regulator that identified voice gaps in 1,119 sub-locations and data gaps in 6,256 sub-locations had been overtaken by events, and that it was necessary to carry out a more current review.
‘We will all attest to fact that this far, the ICT landscape in the country has significantly changed and the gaps may have reduced over the years,” Gituku said.
After the collection after some time the USF has finally managed to collect over sh1.1 bn after CAK deposited Sh1bn as seed capital. The other operators have already paid close to sh100m and this amount is expected to increase in the coming months as more players pay up.
The CAK looking to start the project will begin with studying key projects to be implemented. This would take 14 months starting January 2015. It therefore means the implementation phase will kick off as early as February 2016.
“This is a key milestone for Kenya. There are many pockets across the country who are yet to be reached with key communication services. This fund is targeting rural areas which are not viewed as commercially viable,” said Catherine Ngahu, Chairperson, Universal Service Advisory Council, CAK.
Ministry of Information Principal Secretary, Joseph Tiampati said the USF will catapult the growth of ICT in the country. He urged all stakeholders to comply and cooperate for the fund to be sustainable and succeed.
Part of the strategy from the USF is to have the country achieve broadband speed of 5mbps by 2017 and 500mbps by 2030. To achieve this, the government needs $2.5bn.
The fund was set up almost six years ago to help step up telecommunication infrastructure in rural and remote areas, which are normally considered financially unviable. However a squabble between CAK and ICT industry stakeholders on how to run the fund has been delaying its implementation.