Wananchi to use KPLC network for fibre rollout in Kenya


Kenya’s Wananchi Group is to use the national electricity transmission network to build a fibre optic platform expected to open a new front in the bruising battle for control of Kenya's lucrative media market.

The platform - a product of an agreement between the media firm and Kenya Power and Lighting Company -- puts Wananchi on a converged media highway that enables it to compete in television content, internet provision, data and voice transmission markets.

"We are deploying the "design unseen" network in key urban areas that enables us to install our fibre network on KPLC's electricity poles," said Suhayl Esmailjeee, the chief operating officer at Wananchi Group.

Replicating KPLCs power transmission network in fibre gives Wananchi access to the more than one million electricity customers and substantially reduces the cost of cable TV transmission that is currently only possible with the expensive infrastructure support involving the digging of trenches to lay terrestrial cables.

KPLC got the licence it needed to diversify into data transmission in April this year after it met the regulator's conditions. The company plans to use its new mandate to create a 1,500km fibre optic backbone helped by the existing electricity transmission network. The Sh2.6 billion System Control and Data Acquisition (Scada) project is being financed by the European Investment Bank with the Swedish firm ABB as the contractor.