Mobile Connectivity Key Focus in Makueni County ICT Forum
Communications Authority of Kenya Director General Mr.Francis Wangusi (centre) takes Makueni Governor Prof.Kivutha Kibwana (right) around the Authority’s exhibition tent during the Makueni County ICT Consumer Forum today.The event dubbed Kikao Kikuu is an initiative of the Authority providing a platform for engagement between the Authority,ICT Consumers and service providers in the ICT sector.
Ease of access to mobile communications services and consumer protection took centre stage at the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA)’s County ICT Consumer Forum in Makueni County.
The event dubbed Kikao Kikuu is a platform of engagement between the Authority, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) consumers and service providers on issues pertinent to the sector. The forum dialogue also ropes in ICT consumer organizations and ICT equipment vendors.
Consumers from Makueni raised concerns on a number of issues with specific mention of weak TV signal coverage in the County. The Authority acknowledged the challenge and highlighted the ongoing efforts to boost the TV signal coverage in the hilly County. CA noted its engagement with Broadcast Signal Distributors to rollout their digital television terrestrial signal especially in location that has a high population like Makueni. Bamba TV, is at an advanced stage to rollout its network in Makueni, and has prospects of being on by August 2017.
In his remarks at the forum, CA Director General, Francis Wangusi, said technical measures were being explored, including gap fillers, to ensure that the people of Makueni enjoyed services just like those in other parts of the country.
Makueni Governor Prof. Kivutha Kibwana who presided over the event, said that as catalysts of socio-economic development, ICTs are now drivers of efficiency in service delivery in the devolved units, with his county investing heavily in ICT infrastructure, ICT capacity building and skills improvement.
‘‘We have embraced ICTs owing to the fact that it is an enabler to economic development and supports efficient service delivery which is a key requirement for any emerging economy,’’ said Prof.Kibwana.
The county has established 13 County ICT Centers to equip locals with basic computer skills, enhance access to government services online as well keeping abreast with information in their immediate environment.
Makueni has also deployed a Project Management System for tracking performance and management of the county budget as well as a Bulk SMS platform for engagement with the public on issues affecting the county.
Despite considerable gains made, Prof. Kibwana however decried challenges in access to essential communications services in the area, calling for necessary interventions to turn around the county’s fortunes.
‘‘The geographical location and topography of the county has greatly inhibited digital terrestrial TV and mobile coverage in large areas of the County, limiting access to these important resources,’’ noted the Governor.
CA Director General Mr. Francis Wangusi took note of the concerns put forward, adding that the Authority has put in place stringent requirements on quality of service (QoS) which are now embedded in the operators’ licenses and must be adhered to from time to time.
Mr.Wangusi also revealed that Makueni County is a beneficiary of an ongoing Education Broadband Connectivity Project that seeks to connect 896 secondary schools in the country with high speed broadband. About 28 schools in the area set to benefit from the project under the Universal Service Fund (USF), established by law to roll out communications services to areas they are inadequate or non existent.
As the ICT industry regulator, the Authority’s mandate encompasses protection of the rights of consumers of ICT services through various regulations and consumer outreach activities such as Kikao Kikuu.
Existing consumer regulations give consumers recourse against service providers in the event they are offered services that don’t conform to certain standards or meet the required quality.
Makueni is the 14th County to benefit from the Authority’s Kikao Kikuu forums.