State Earmarks Sh2.8 Billion To Improve Digital Connectivity In The Country

The Government is set to release Sh2.8 billion given by the Universal Service Fund (USF) to improve digital connectivity in the country, Principal Secretary (PS), the State Department for Broadcasting and Telecommunications Professor Edward Kisiang’ani has announced

Prof. Kisiang’ani said the money which is set to be released by the Treasury next week is meant to help the underserved areas to be connected digitally so that they can also reap the benefits of technology.

The PS reiterated that Government is in the process of establishing 25,000 WiFi hotspots across the country as well as 1,450 digital hubs spread across all constituencies.

He said the National Government-Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) will allocate three percent of its monies towards infrastructural upgrades on this digital hubs initiative in the constituency digital hubs, which are physical spaces with access to superfast broadband alongside community and business-focused services.

The PS said the digital hubs in the country have t
hree components; Centres of excellence, the standard, and the ordinary, but the centres of excellence are key in helping the communities that do not have internet access to get this service, as they are constructed in the villages to bring this service closer to the people.

‘This will help these underserved communities to even start sources of income and improve the quality of their lives,’ the PS said.

He was speaking in Naivasha during the Ministry of Information, Communication, and the Digital Economy stakeholders’ workshop organized by Parliament.

The Information Communications Technology (ICT) hubs will also be used for citizen digital literacy training, film creation, and public access to government services in all wards across the country beginning this year.

This will help provide digital connectivity, support the development of digital skills, and create jobs and this will be done through the laying of 10,000 kilometres of fiber, thanks to the digital superhighway initiative.

Prof. Kisiang’ani a
lso revealed that the new structure for the State Department of Broadcasting and Telecommunications has been approved and will be rolled out soon and the department has also been carrying out interviews for promotions to upgrade the officers who have stagnated for a long time.

Turning his guns on the media in the country, the PS lamented that the media fraternity has been giving the Government what he termed as negative coverage and implored it to endeavor to highlight the many positive things that are happening in the country.

‘We all belong to this country and the Government belongs to all of us, we should also try and show the world the good things that are happening in the country,’ Kisiang’ani stated.

Dagoretti South Member of Parliament (MP) John Kiarie Waweru who is also the Chair of the Communication, Information Innovation Committee in the National Assembly decried the low funding to the Ministry of Information, Communications and Digital Economy, which he said is a critical ministry mandated to f
acilitate digitization of government services and increased internet connectivity to underserved communities at a time that the ICT sector is expected to contribute 10 percent to the National Gross Domestic Product by 2025.

Kiarie urged the Ministry to work with available resources towards achieving priority areas such as government digitization and digitalization agenda.

He revealed that the Government had digitized over 15,845 services and added that the digitization program would enable the sealing of revenue leakages and facilitate increased revenue collections.

Kiarie said the Naivasha workshop which entails engagements with the state departments will help review their performance and achievements based on this financial year’s budget allocation and announced that 1.2 million Digital Literacy (DL) devices have been distributed over 22,000 schools to enhance digital literacy.

Kiarie noted that the Kenya Kwanza Administration is on course to facilitate the setting up of 25,000 WIFI hotspots across the
country to boost e-commerce, build 1,450 digital hubs across constituencies, and targets to roll out 100,000 kilometres of fiber out of which 20,000 kilometers have already been laid. All these, he said are geared towards driving the digitization agenda in the next three years.

Kenya has notably emerged as a significant force in Africa’s digital evolution over time. The country has launched numerous digital infrastructure projects to open doors for development and economic expansion.

Kenya, which is ranked second among African nations with the greatest level of technological advancement, recently unveiled a ten-year digital master plan.

In the digital master plan, the four main pillars are digital infrastructure, digital services and data management, digital skills, and encouraging digital innovation for entrepreneurship.

The creation of 1,450 information and communication hubs across the country is in line with the digital infrastructure pillar, which also entails the installation of 25,000 hotspots in p
ublic spaces as mentioned earlier, and important business centres.

It will also entail the development of the government Cloud, the acceleration of the Konza Technopolis and Smart City development, the construction of regional ICT infrastructure, and the creation of a sustainable power plan to support the infrastructure.

Source: Kenya News Agency

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