Kenya: Safaricom Asks for USF Cash to Bridge Network Coverage

Telecoms

Safaricom yesterday said it planned to put up network masts in Northeastern and other marginalised parts of the county.

The telco said it expects to earn rebates for the massive revenues it has contributed to the Universal Service Fund in implementing the project. Chief executive Bob Collymore said the Base Transmission Stations will be used by other operators. Safaricom, he said, will also be entitled to get remissions on spectrum charges they pay the Communication Authority of Kenya.

"We have asked the authority to allow us to build the masts and the cost is then rebated from our contributions to the Fund. Our discussions with the authority are going on well," he told reporters after the firm's annual general meeting in Nairobi.

"Usually when you set up a BTS, they (CA) charge you transmission charges. They are offering to give us discounts on this and it has encouraged us to go out to those areas," he added.

ICT players, excluding those in postal services, are required to remit 0.5 per cent of their annual revenue to the Fund created in 2009 to expand infrastructure into remote areas.

This is geared towards attracting viable investments into the areas. Safaricom reported revenues of Sh163.36 billion for the year ended March 2015, which translates to about Sh816.8 million in contributions to the USF. According to the dominant telco, 70 per cent of the country is currently covered by its network .

The increased coverage, Collymore said, has been key in extending services to the publicly traded operator's more than 24 million subscribers.

"We keep on getting requests from people living in these ares to put up a base station for security reasons. The CA has shown willingness for us to work together to cover those areas," he said.
Source: The Star 3 September 2015