Communications Authority, the Kenyan telecoms regulator is working with telcos under the USF Project to connect marginalised areas to mobile telephone services.
Thousands of residents in remote areas of Kitui County that were previously not linked to the basic mobile telephony, are now enjoying services thanks to regulatory obligations vested on licensed mobile operators.
More than 30,000 people who were initially unable to receive or make calls can now enjoy mobile services as a result of the Universal Service Obligation that requires mobile network providers to offer services to unserved areas as per their licence conditions.
The beneficiary sub-locations include Katia, Kanthungu, Kavaani and Ikime.
Safaricom under its licence obligation has constructed telecommunication sites in Mwanzugululu in Katia sub-location that now provides coverage to Nguuku Village in Mumoni Ward and Kanthungu site in Kanthungu sub-location, providing coverage in Nthagani village in Tharaka ward.
The telco also built a site in Inyanzai Primary School that provides coverage in Kasiluni Village in Ngomeni Ward.
These sites built under the Universal Service Obligation will now complement, those constructed in the area under the Universal Service Fund (USF).
“The populations in the three sub-locations of Kanthungu, Katia and Kavaani are now connected to the fast evolving telecommunication services and can respond and contribute to the national growth agenda as they resolve local concerns using ICTs as the enabler,” Mercy Wanjau, the Ag. Director Communications Authority said in Mwingi North today during the site inspection by the ICT Senate Committee in the area.
During the inspection, the Authority confirmed that there was a significant improvement on the successful calls from 83% to 98.9% in Nthagani. Nguuku showed the most significant improvement with 100% successful calls from 69%. The success rate at Kasiluni improved from 47% to 89% and all the KPI’s measured showed a positive improvement.
“We see the availability of mobile services in this area and indeed other parts of the country that have been connected through this project, creating a ripple effect in other facets of the society, including health, agriculture and education services and also financial inclusion through the mobile money transfer services,” Mrs Wanjau added.
CA is targeting to construct more sites in five sub-location during phase two of the USF Project and one more site in the Kitui County under the Universal Service Obligation.
Local leaders speaking at the event said access to mobile voice services was a welcome relief for residents of these locations that have previously experienced hardship in accessing basic telephony services.
“In the past, the residents have been forced to trek several miles in search of mobile network coverage, to enable them make and receive calls. We therefore welcome the efforts to boost the network coverage in these regions,” said Paul Kimunga, chairman Ngomeni market.
Of critical importance was the coordination of security operations due to incidences of cattle rustling and conflicts with the neighbouring communities across the county boundaries.
The event was attended by Senate ICT Committee Members, Kitui County representatives, industry stakeholders, residents of Mwingi North among other officials from county government.
Safaricom is planning to connect all Kenyans to 4G by the end of 2021.