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Government Sets Aside Sh300 million to Improve Mobile Network Coverage in Kitui County’s Remote Zones

Government Sets Aside Sh300 million to Improve Mobile Network Coverage in Kitui County’s Remote Zones


Friday March 30, 2024

KNA by Denson Mututo

The Government is set to spend Sh300 million from the Universal Service Fund (USF) kitty to improve mobile network coverage in remote and insecurity prone areas of Kitui County.

This has been disclosed by Principal Administrative Secretary, Ministry of Information, Communications and the Digital Economy Eric Kiraithe.

Speaking on Wednesday during a courtesy call to Kitui county commissioner Jipchumba Rutto, Mr Kiraithe reiterated that the Communication Authority of Kenya under the Ministry of ICT, is working in partnership with private mobile network service providers including Safaricom, to root out the poor mobile network connectivity menace by installing masts across all identified zones.

Majority of the zones already mapped out are in the eastern part of the county, including Makuka, Malawa, Malalani, Kimela and Katene among others.

“The Ministry has already commissioned masts installation projects in the areas,” noted Mr Kiraithe who is leading a team from the ministry and partners, on a week-long inspection tour of the zones in the county.

Kiraithe also noted that alongside Kitui county, more other 18 counties are also set to benefit during ongoing phases two’s countrywide mobile network coverage improvement projects, that is set to be completed in the next five years.

He regretted that amongst the 19 counties, some are either experiencing banditry insecurity while others are due to remoteness, making it hard for Mobile network providers to reach especially rural areas of the counties.

“We set up this universal service fund kitty to support private mobile network providers and in Kitui county, several remote areas along the border of Kitui county, with its neighbours Tana River and Garissa counties, which are also banditry prone areas, have been earmarked to benefit from mobile connectivity in the ongoing 2021 Phase II of the voice infrastructure connectivity project, that will see the border residents enjoy the transformation brought about by mobile communications services,” Kiraithe said.

He further expressed concern that due to the remoteness of the areas and insecurity threat, some schools were unable to successfully integrate Internet in learning through the Education Broadband Connectivity Project, thus denying pupils, students and teachers to enroll into e-learning education programs that make it easier for teachers to explain concepts.

He however noted that during the first phase of the implementation in 2016, they faced challenges leading to the delay in the completion of the projects in several areas, key among them being vandalism of the telecommunications infrastructure causing huge financial losses and in effect, impacting the Government efforts of ensuring that all Kenyans have access of ICT services.

Kiraithe said to address the challenges, the Authority has been engaging communities in beneficiary areas to interact with them, create awareness on the importance of the communications infrastructure and the immense opportunities that have been brought by services and most importantly, ownership and security of the infrastructure.

The Authority is working closely with the National Government Administration Officers and the County Governments in these engagements to ensure minimised challenges are witnessed and build on lessons learnt from the previous project.

Kitui county commissioner Mr Jipchumba Rutto commended the CommunicationsAuthority’s efforts in enhancing communication services and assured of his office’s support and cooperation with the Authority to provide security to ensure no vandalism of communication infrastructures once installed in the areas.

The county commissioner who also is the chairman of the county security committee, underscored that enhancement of communication in the areas, will as well help in fighting insecurity in the remote and insecurity prone areas.

He appealed to the border communities at the respective project areas to cooperate and work jointly with security agents at the community levels in protecting the communication connections infrastructures to demonstrate their ownership of the communication infrastructures.

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