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Kenya’s telecommunications industry regulator said on Monday it requires about 2.5 billion U.S. dollars for broadband connectivity across the country.

Ngene Gituku, chairman of the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), said whereas the Universal Service Fund (USF) was established with the express purpose of supporting widespread access to information and communications technology (ICT) services, resources available through the mechanism are immensely inadequate.

“The Universal Service Fund has so far collected a total of 71 million dollars. The budget envisaged to close the initial voice and service gaps is estimated at 115 million dollars, whereas closing all the identified voice connectivity gaps in their entirety requires in excess of 75 million dollars,” Gituku said.

The Fund, which Kenya established in 2009 to promote capacity-building and innovation in ICT services in the country, is supported through levies the government collects from telecom operators and other players on licences as well as grant and services and finances national projects in rural, remote and poor urban areas.

“I urge all stakeholders and licensees to work with the Authority by contributing to the Fund to ensure they meet their respective licence obligations in respect to infrastructure and service roll-out in order to fast-track the realization of universal access to ICT services,” the chairman said.

He said the CA is in the process of completing the Education Broadband and the Voice Infrastructure projects, adding that the board remains committed to ensuring that all ongoing and future USF projects are undertaken professionally in order to realize the statutory mandate of universal access to ICT services.

“This commitment is inspired by our recognition of the potential of ICTs in the realization of the government’s Big-Four Agenda, Vision 2030, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” he noted.

CA Director General Francis Wangusi said while the majority of the licensees have been remitting their contributions to the USF kitty, they were also grappling with a number of licensees who have not been consistent in their remittances.

Wangusi however stated that the Authority is engaging them with a view to ensuring that they all comply with the provisions of the law.

“The broadband connectivity program shall be scaled up to facilitate the closure of the broadband internet gap in learning institutions and other public institutions to enable access to online curriculum materials and government services,” Ngahu said.

Catherine Ngahu, chairman of the Universal Service Advisory Council (USAC), said within the next five years, the Fund intends to implement a broad range of projects, spanning through the entire spectrum of ICT services that fall within the regulatory mandate of the Authority. Enditem

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