While mobile operators have been offering their services in the country for more than two decades, they have not been successful in offering network coverage to every part of the country.
The issues have been mentioned from time to time; some remote areas are not covered at all, or if they are, the connection is poor. The problems boil down to geographical challenges, and lack of funds to install towers. In other instances, the construction of masts does not guarantee a return of investments.
ICT regulator the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has been trying to solve these issues. Its kitty named the Universal Service Fund (USF), which is furnished with funds from operators. The money is then used to serve unconnected or poorly connected regions, among other tasks.
This is what happened the other day in Kitui County. Some residents of a remote part in county have not been able to make calls or enjoy any other basic mobile telephony services.
Those people, who amount to more than 30K, are now connected thanks to the Universal Service Obligation.
The beneficiary sub-locations include Katia, Kanthungu, Kavaani and Ikime.
The improved services were introduced by Safaricom, which developed telecommunication sites in Mwanzugululu in Katia sub-location that now provides coverage to Nguuku Village in Mumoni Ward and Kanthungu site in Kanthungu sub-location, providing coverage in Nthagani village in Tharaka ward.
The sites are said to complement those constructed under the USF.
During the inspection exercise, the CA confirmed that there was a significant improvement on the successful calls from 83% to 98.9% in Nthagani. Nguuku showed the most significant improvement with 100% successful calls from 69%. The success rate at Kasiluni improved from 47% to 89% and all the KPI’s measured showed a positive improvement.
That is not all; the CA has plans to develop more sites on 5 sublocations during the second phase of the exercise.
The inspection exercise was attended by Senate ICT Committee Members, lead by Vice Chairperson Sen. Halake Abshiro Soka, Kitui County representatives, industry stakeholders, residents of Mwingi North among other officials from County Government.
What they said
The populations in the three sub-locations of Kanthungu, Katia and Kavaani are now connected to the fast-evolving telecommunication services and can respond and contribute to the national growth agenda as they resolve local concerns using ICTs as the enabler.
–Mercy Wanjau, the Ag. Director Communications Authority