TESPOK LASHES KENYAN GOVERNMENT FOR "PARTIAL LIBERALIZATION"

Internet

Private sector internet body TESPOK attacked the Government for using the issuing of the SNO licence as a way of creating two "protected segments": international internet/data gateways and VSAT hubs:"The Kenyan telecommunications industry has waited patiently for (the end of Kenya Telkom’s exclusivity)...For reasons that are not clear (but certainly not in the interest of Kenyans) the administration has decided that there will NOT be full liberalization and that Kenyans MAY NOT enjoy the fruits of ICT as our neighbours ion the rest of East Africa are doing".

"The partial liberalization will not work and will marginalize Kenya still further. The Government is about to release a new sector policy which, from our consultations with the Ministry of Transport and Communications, appears to be neither transparent nor progressive. It is based on assumptions, which are fundamentally wrong and the only beneficiaries of the policy will be the lobbyists of self interest groups who have been promoting it. If implemented, the Kenya economy and consumer will be consigned to a further indeterminate period of communications misery that will cause inordinate damage to our economy as a whole and to the telecommunications sector in particular."

TESPOK opposes the issuing of licences in the "protected segments" on a competitive tendering basis. It contents that the Government has changed its position on this issue. Gilat’s VSAT Hub Licence was simply issued for a flat fee licence of KSH15m. Now the Government wants to auction these licences. It contends with some justification that competitive tendering of a limited licences will lead to high costs that will inevitably be passed on to users. And this in turn will impose a higher, uncompetitive cost on the Kenyan economy. In both Tanzania and Uganda, VSAT licences are available to all comers for USD5000 and USD4000 respectively.

"Full liberalization of the telecommunications market is in the best interests of the consumer and essential for Kenya’s economic recovery. We support the Telecommunications Industry in their request that with effect from 30 June 2004 VSAT licensing should be open to FULL competition, and not the restricted licensing currently being prposed by the National Communications Secretariat."

ISPsNeedVSAT@LiberalizeVSAT.Co.ke