CAK sets aside funds for Universal Service Fund
By Vicky Sultan
The Communications Authority of Kenya has set aside 1.05 billion shillings as seed money for the Universal Service Fund.
The Universal Service Advisory Council that will oversee the use of the Fund in rolling-out ICT services in remote areas of Kenya was this morning inaugurated.
The government in the year 2006 released the first policy statement that is specific to promoting ICT infrastructure investments in rural and other un-served areas through the provision of incentives.
The policy outlined the need to create Universal Service Fund that subsidizes the cost of ICT infrastructure roll out and expansion to un-served and underserved areas.
On Friday the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology inaugurated the universal service advisory council noting that ICT is a key catalyst to economic development and as such the government has committed to ensure that universality of communication services is recognized in the entire country.
The ICT Ministry has collected a total of 45 million shilling through the USF levy. However, the figure is way below the estimated 800 million shillings needed to have ICT infrastructure in remote areas.
The government is therefore urging all operators to comply and support the initiative.
ICT Cabinet Secretary Dr. Fred Matiang’i underscored the strategic importance of the Universal Service Fund in releasing the constitutional obligation of fast tracking development and inclusion of marginalized communities in the national development.
Dr. Matiang’I noted that ICT services have over the years moved away from being luxury for the privileged few to a basic necessity.
He noted that some of the challenges facing the country such as insecurity could be addressed through availing communication services that facilitate operations by citizens and state agencies.
The CS said the regions that are generally lacking ICT services such as Northern and South East regions are the most affected by insecurity.