29 million Kenyans lack broadband access

A study conducted by The Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) has revealed that more than 1 100 sub-locations in Kenya out of  7 149 lack access to voice telephony services.

Francis Wamukota Wangusi, CCK Acting Director General (image source: cofek)

According to statistics released by the regulator, only 893 sub-locations in the country have access to broadband data/Internet services, with 85 000 broadband subscribers.

The study revealed that five million Kenyans do not have access to communication services while 29 million do not have access to broadband facilities.

Francis Wamukota Wangusi, the Acting Director General of the CCK, these statistics are part of the ICT Access Gaps Study findings released to stakeholders at a Nairobi hotel.

The Study, aimed at assisting the CCK in developing the most appropriate framework for provision of affordable ICT services, was carried out by Apoyo Consultoria of Peru, South America.

The study revealed that less than 5% of people living in rural areas use the Internet in spite of growth in the number of internet users from 1,7 million in 2007 to 10 million in June 2011.

In most counties, Internet usage stands at below 5%.

“Mobile penetration grew by an average of 31% annually from 34% in 2007 to 65% by June 2011. Mobile subscribers on the other hand increased from 11 million in 2007 to 25 million in June 2011,” reads part of the study.

At the sub-location level, more than 50% of the population uses mobile phones, with sub-locations in Nairobi, Kiambu and Nyeri counties leading with mobile telephone usage of about 70%.

The main obstacles for increasing coverage in unserved areas, according to the report, include the high operation and maintenance costs occasioned mainly by lack of electricity, access to roads and cable vandalism.

The study also identified low population and high licence and spectrum fees as additional obstacles to universal access to voice and data services.

Information and Communications Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo said government would soon put in place the requisite policy interventions to address the access gaps identified in the study.

He said government has facilitated international broadband connectivity and the construction of national terrestrial broadband network with a view to transforming Kenya to a knowledge economy.

Acting CCK Director-General Francis Wangusi said 4 companies are currently providing mobile services in Kenya with more than 25 million of mobile subscribers.

Despite this growth, we estimate that there are still 1 119 sub locations (out of 7 149) that lack access to voice services,” he said.

Industry insiders say that contrary to high expectations on fibre optics, the infrastructure had been slow to reach most parts of the country.

Ndemo said that there is a great need to roll out a last mile solution which was imminent and gave an eight-month deadline for connecting the entire country.

“When I’m talking about last mile I’m talking about a technology which would address fixed broadband because it addresses schools, hospitals and government institutions in the rural areas. We must be able to take it where it is needed,” he said.

Under the county government structure, fibre optic has reached 37 counties. The ministry intends to reach the remaining 10 counties under the last mile strategy to enable every Kenyan get access to internet as envisioned in the Vision 2030 document.

Staff Writer