Uproar Over Internet Costs in Kenya

Internet

The Kenyan Government has accused TEAMS shareholders of colluding to fix internet connectivity prices. Information and Communication PS Bitange Ndemo said the shareholders are making a massive 2,000 per cent from selling their capacity before the cable officially goes live. The shareholders have said that they will first have to recoup their investment before lowering the Internet connectivity prices.

He said the shareholders should be selling internet connection at about $200 per Megabyte (MB) but the companies have held the price at about $4,000 just below the current price of satellite. "When we were initially setting up TEAMs the issue of recouping investments after it had gone live did not feature," Dr Ndemo said.

Some shareholders have confirmed that they are already using the signal, but charging at prices of satellite. "The shareholders are entitled to pre-sell their capacity although the cable has not yet been handed over to TEAMS for commercial operations," said Teams chairman, Michael Joseph. He said the official launch will be announced on Thursday.

Teams undersea fibre optic cable landed on June 12 and has been since undergoing testing. The initial testing report was released on August 21. Dr Ndemo says some of the shareholders are sabotaging the government's bid to increase Internet access in Kenya by delaying the launch.

In the cable, the Government of Kenya has a 20 per cent stake, Safaricom Limited 22.5 per cent and Telkom Kenya Limited 22.5 per cent. Others include Essar Telecom Kenya Ltd, Kenya Data Networks Ltd, Wananchi Telecoms, Access Kenya and Jamii Telecommunications Ltd. The investors say meaningful price reductions will take up to three years. Dr Bitange says the government may be forced to step in and regulate internet connectivity charges if the prices will not come down significantly in the next one month.

Daily Nation