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Broadband access to increase to 20% by 2017

05 June 2013, 16:03

Nairobi - Kenya plans to increase the country's broadband access to 20 percent by the year 2017, the country communication regulator said on Tuesday.

Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) Director General Francis Wangusi said that currently only 3 percent of the population has access to broadband.

"This has hindered many development objectives and so the government has set a target of 20 percent broadband access by the year 2017," Wangusi said during a workshop on the role of women in Information Communication Technology (ICT).

The two-day conference brought over 100 delegates to discuss ways to encourage the development and use of ICT among women and girls. Wangusi noted that despite Kenya's high mobile penetration rate, the broad band access remains low.

"However as more and more people use the technology, the cost of broadband will reduce," he said. Wangusi noted that the country's fixed telecoms infrastructure is minimal compared to the size of the population.

"Most of broadband access will be achieved through wired infrastructure," he said. The CCK said that wireless technology is easy to deploy but speeds achieved are usually lower compared to fixed lines.

He added that most of the country has been connected to the national fiber network. "What is remaining is the last mile connection to the consumers," he said. The government's broadband expansion plans will rely on multiple measures.

"One of the options is to use proceeds from the Universal Service Fund (USF)," Wangusi said adding that USF will receive 0.5 percent of revenues from of all licensed telecoms.

The industry regulator said it will also inject seed capital of 11.7 million U.S. dollars, adding that 25 percent of CCK's surplus funds will also go the kitty.

Wangusi said that one of the conditions for the renewal of telecom licenses will include deployment of broadband infrastructure across the country. "We also plan to bring in new telecom players to help roll out the technology so that more people can access," he said.

The director general also noted that Kenya can bridge the gap between men and women in terms of ICT access by the year 2017.

The UN Millennium Development Goals has set a deadline for 2015. Ministry of Information Permanent Secretary Dr. Bitange Ndemo said that achievement of the gender parity in ICT is being hindered by cultural practices.

According to the CCK, currently men's access to ICT is 50 percent more that of women. "The real problem is subtle discrimination against girls and women across the society. As a result women remain under-represented across the ICT sector," Ndemo said.

He added that lack of ICT-oriented women makes girls to lack role models. The PS said that the values of the country will have to change so that women are allowed to access the technology.

"We have therefore made deliberate efforts to support girls to uptake ICT in schools," he said. He noted that the National ICT Master Plan will create programs that will allow women to participate in the sector.

Directorate of e-Government, ICT Secretary Dr Katherine Getao said that limited access to ICTs' by women deprives them and their families of potential income.

"It therefore has a negative impact of the country's level of knowledge and skills as well as competitiveness," she said.

Getao noted that the government will work with all stakeholders in order to identify the challenges faced by women as consumers of ICT. 



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