Kenyaís broadband strategy asks for ten fold increase for ICT budget


Kenya's ICT sector is gearing up for massive reforms following the launch of the National Broadband Strategy (NBS), which is seeking to increase ICTs to 5 per cent of the national budget.
Released by the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology, the KSh257 billion (US$2.9 billion) NBS aims to streamline the sector through providing a roadmap to transform Kenya into a knowledge-based society driven by a reliable high-capacity nationwide broadband network.

The overall goal is to provide quality broadband services to all Kenyans through connectivity that is always-on and delivers a minimum of 40mbps to individuals, homes and businesses for high speed access to voice, data, video and applications for development by 2017 and 2,048mbps download speeds by 2030.

It envisages 75 per cent of local business to have an online presence, 70 per cent of all government transactions to be virtual, 40 per cent of the population to be digitally literate and 20 per cent of Kenyan websites to be in local languages.

In the strategy, 5 per cent of the national budget will be geared towards ICT annually, up from the current 0.5 per cent.

With Kenyan telcoms companies recording huge pre-tax profits in the past years the strategy will see the companies contribute 0.5 per cent of their annual revenues to the Universal Service Fund to implement last-mile connectivity in remote regions.

In a move to make every part of the country connected, the strategy seeks by 2017 to have the national fibre backbone expanded by 30,000km to reach at least 80 per cent of districts.

The NBS is a product of intensive stakeholder consultations involving key players from the broadband ecosystem including infrastructure, connectivity and devices, content applications and innovations and capacity building and awareness.

Experts on the policy, legal and regulatory, finance and investment areas were also consulted.

The strategy has been regarded as critical to the achievement of Vision 2030 which recognises the enabling role of ICT and anchors some of its key aspirations upon the availability and adoption of broadband technologies.

NBS also cites the provision of complementary infrastructure in the roads sector that shall allow ICT infrastructure to cross roads and railways, especially the fibre optic cables which have to be placed beneath the surface.

With many government institutions being digitised the strategy envisages that by 2017 most government registries will be hosted in a shared network.

The government is also hoping to float an ICT bond to raise KSh70 billion (US$800 million) towards financing the project although details are yet to be finalised.

The strategy will be implemented in two five-year phases with the cost sourced locally and externally. The first phase from 2013 to 2017 will cost KSh110 billion (US$1.3 billion) implement.