The Government’s efforts to ensure all Kenyans access ICT services may be affected due to poor mandatory contributions to the Universal Service Fund (USF) by telecommunication service providers.
By last month, only KES 45mn out of a projected KES 800mn had been deposited into the funds’ accounts. USF is primarily financed through mandatory contributions by licensed operators and the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK).
It was set up to enable Government subsidise the cost of ICT infrastructure roll out and expansion in the country’s un-served and underserved areas. The Government provided a seed capital of KES 1bn.
Although Kenya is witnessing rapid growth in the ICT sector, most of these services are limited to major urban centres, decried Cabinet Secretary, ICT, Fred Matiang’i.
“While the private sector has an important role to play in meeting universal access, there is need for government to promote investments in un-served and underserved areas through various initiatives including Universal Service Fund,” said Dr. Matiang’i.
Through the fund, various initiatives to entrench ICT services in rural Kenya are ongoing including the establishment of community telecenters in Chwele located in Bungoma, Mutomo, Eldama Ravine and Kitundu in Makueni in conjunction with institutions that serve Persons with Disabilities.
In addition, the authority is partnering with the Nairobi Provincial Medical Office to computerise selected health centres and with the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development to digitize the Kenya Secondary Education curriculum.
Other popular ICT initiatives the government is currently undertaking are the Laptop Programme, Digital Inclusion Projects such as Pasha Centres/Digital Villages and Wezesha Initiative, Business Process Outsourcing; Local Content Programme including Tandaa Digital Content Grants and Open Data Portal and the Information Security; the Konza Technology Park, zero-rated taxes on imported ICT hardware and eGovernment program.