Director General Francis Wangusi and Principal Secretary Broadcasting and Telecommunication Mr. Sammy Itemere (centre) pose for a group photo with the Universal Service Advisory Council members after their inauguration
Six out of the nine members of the Universal Service Advisory Council USAC were inaugurated today following their re-appointment for another three year term.
The re-appointments were done between 14th March and 9th May 2017 following the expiry of the USAC term in May this year.
Those re-appointed were Dr Catherine Ngahu chairperson, Mrs Towett Josephine Chepkurui, Mrs Masaviru Rodah Awinja, Mr Gacheo Nixon Mageka Mr Godo Pakia and Michael Maina Itote.
USAC provides advisory role to the Board on all matters, relating to the Universal Service Fund USF including project selection and prioritization.
The USF was established by law to address the disparities that exist in access to ICT services in Kenya. It also acts as an incentive for attracting operators and service providers to rural and high cost areas through provision of subsidies and grants.
All licencees in the ICT sector contribute 0.5 per cent of their annual gross turnover to this kitty.
Joseph Mucheru, Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Information Communications and Technology said the biggest milestone in the last financial year 2016/17 was the operationalization of the Universal Service Fund.
Since the operationalization of the Fund the Authority has initiated two major projects through the USF namely Education Connectivity Broadband and the Voice Infrastructure projects in the FY 2016/17.
These projects were initiated through the guidance of the USAC team whose term has been extended to enable continue them offering their wisdom and expertise.
“ I am confident that the team will guide the Authority in the projects implementation to ensure that more Kenyans have access to communication services,” Mr Mucheru said during the inauguration of the re-appointed members.
“The appointment has been staggered to avoid a situation when the Council will have no members when the current term expires. I will be making appointments to the remaining slots very soon,” Mr Mucheru added.
Francis Wangusi, Director General Communications Authority of Kenya said that the two project that have been initiated by the Authority- the Education School Broadband and the Voice Infrastructure projects- were guided by findings from an ICT Access Gaps study to determine the levels of access to Information and Communications services in the country.
The study revealed that 5.6% of the population or about 2.66 million people have no access to telecommunication services. About 418 sub-locations have less than half of their population covered by communications services while another 164 sub-locations have no access to 2G mobile services at all.
In addition, the study established that 3G and broadband services are limited to urban areas. Only 2,454 sub-locations have 100% population coverage of 3G and broadband while 1,244 sub-locations have no access to this service at all.
“In line with the above-cited recommendations, the Authority has commenced the implementation of the Education Broadband Connectivity Project, which targets to connect 896 public secondary schools across the 47 counties in Kenya,” Mr Wangusi said.