KENYAN GOVT SACKS TELKOM’S CHESEREM AND APPOINTS WAWERU

Telecoms

As predicted the Kenyan Government has appointed new faces at Kenya Telkom. John N Waweru becomes Managing Director and Ndolo Ayah, Chair of the Board. Waweru was a former telco employee back in the KPTC days and currently runs successful satellite TV and VSAT installation companies. Ndolo Ayah is a former Cabinet Minister.

In the same week as the appointments Transport and Communications Minister John Michuki said he would reveal corrupt deals at the country’s telecoms monopoly. He denied he had been slow in carrying out reforms in parastatals under his ministry, saying the necessary reforms would be carried out. "I don’t want anybody to imply that I have been directed by the President not to proceed with intended measures".

A board paper by the telecommunications regulator CCK recommends that Telkom Kenya be stripped off its monopoly in the provision of long distance fixed line telephony, and that a second national operator be licensed.

The report also recommends the licensing of a second internet backbone service provider to compete with Telkom. Already, two firms - Afsat Communications and another fronted by a number of major ISPs called Fast Lane, have applied for licensing.

There is still discontent at the slow pace of change best exemplified by an open letter from Joseph Mucheru, Operations Director of Wananchi Online to the Minister:"...today the laws prohibit Kenyans from using Voice over IP which would save the country millions. An ordinary call to the US would cost about $2.00 per minute to the USA using the current PSTN while we know that using Voice Over IP it would not cost more than $0.30 per minute. An 85% saving on the current price. Why do we as Kenyans have to pay so much more than our US or UK counterparts? Telkom Kenya could offer this new method of communication to the Kenyan people instead of fighting to curb its use. As a country we have a huge opportunity to save". He also makes the point that privatising Telkom Kenya is not the solution as you would only exchange a public for a private monopoly: there needs to be more competition.

(sources: various including The Nation)