Data, voice and IP provider, Liquid Telecom today said it has laid 4,200 kilometres of fibre optic network in Kenya, connecting 39 out of the 47 counties, at a cost of $200m, in a bid to increase Internet access as government and private institutions expand their services to the counties.
Demand for fibre Internet infrastructure in the counties was initially driven by customers expanding to new territories, particularly banks opening rural branches, with 80 per cent of the banks in Kenya currently on the Liquid Telecom fibre network, linking ATMs as well as providing secure inter-office connections from rural branches to head office.
The growing rural banking network has contributed to the uptake of banking services, which has grown from 13.5 per cent in 2006 to 29.2 per cent in 2013, according to the FinAccess National Survey.
Liquid Telecom has connected 25 parastatals plus their branches across the country, including 25 centres for Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KALRO), 4 centres for the Kenya Water Institute, Kenya Industrial Property Institute, Kenya Ports Authority, as well as all the tea estates under the Kenya Tea Development Authority.
Telephone operators providing 3G services, many of which Liquid Telecom provides the bandwidth for, are also driving the network expansion to the counties.
“We believe that everyone has the right to be connected and so investing in the build out of infrastructure to thecounties will help us in our goal to connect every person and business in Africa. Internet offers unprecedented opportunities for economic growth in developing countries. By providing access to information, connecting people to businesses everywhere, and opening up new markets, the Internet can transform the very nature of an economy and support economic development,” said Ben Roberts CEO of Liquid Telecom Kenya.
“For our clients, the main concern is a stable Internet connection that enables them provide swift services to the public through accessing information on the national database, allowing regional staff to process requests and make real time updates, and a fibre network is more reliable in these instances,” said Mr Roberts.
Extending Internet access in developing economies can raise living standards and incomes by up to $600 per person a year, and could lift 160m people out of extreme poverty, according to a report from Deloitte.
For government, the cost savings through moving service delivery online drives further economic gains. In Kenya, the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) has so far reduced its administrative costs from 60 per cent to 32 per cent by automating its claims processing to enable online pre-approval, enabling accessof real-time data, and tracking of payment processes. The connection of counties is expected to further lower these administration costs.
Recently, Liquid Telecom spent an over $300,000 to revamp the free Nakuru Wi-Fi project.