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Kenya sets aside US$30 million for connectivity projects

Kenya sets aside US million for connectivity projects

The second phase for the implementation of the Universal Service Fund (USF) will be announced in August or September 2018, availing approximately Kshs3 billion (US$30 million) for broadband and fixed voice infrastructure projects.

The USF, managed by the Universal Service Advisory Council (USAC) at the Communications Authority (CA), is focused on fixing voice infrastructure in areas where there is no coverage and facilitating 5Mbps broadband infrastructure to schools.

The Fund has accumulated Kshs7.1 billion (US$71 million) from the 0.5% revenue tax received from telecom and internet service providers.

According to USAC, service providers that secured bids – including Safaricom, Telkom Kenya, Xtranet Communications Limited, Liquid Telecommunications Limited and Commcarrier Satellite Services, have achieved over 90%of the connectivity objectives, with the rest due during the course of the year.

"If we look at the total commitment we have, it is around Kshs 4.64 billion (US$46 million) against total collection of Kshs 7.1 billion (US$71 million), which leaves us with around Kshs 2.5 billion (US$25 million) which will be moved to the next phase," said Nixon Gecheo, a member at the USAC.

The USF also received budgetary allocations from the government through the Communication Authority.

"The projects are awarded through open tendering, also we do private public partnerships on projects and also sponsor projects through non-governmental organisations," he added.

Companies can be selected once they prove their ability to complete connectivity projects, he explained.

"First priority will be given to companies that contribute to the USF," Gecheo said.

The CA's procurement sector will direct projects to bidding companies, he said.

The regulator has estimated that it requires Kshs75 billion (US$750 million) to address the voice access gap and Kshs250 billion (US$2.5 billion) for the broadband access gap.

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