The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has awarded contracts to three companies contracted to roll out high-speed internet connectivity to 896 public secondary schools in Kenya under the first phase of implementation of Universal Access Fund projects.
Liquid Telcom, Xtranet Communications and Commcarrier Satellite Services were awarded the contract to undertake the Education Broadband Connectivity Project that will also see select tertiary institutions benefit from high-speed Internet connectivity beginning this year.
The three firms beat 11 other companies in a competitive tendering process to implement the initial programme in the project at a cost of Kshs 836 million.
CA chairman Ngene Gituku said the 898 secondary schools would be connected to five (5) Mbps Internet through the Universal Service Fund (USF), which is established by law to finance regulatory interventions towards ensuring universal access to ICT services across the country.
‘‘The schools were identified through an e-Readiness criterion agreed upon between the Authority and the Ministry of Education. The institutions were expected to have secure electricity supply from Kenya Power or a constant local diesel or solar powered generator station,’’ said Gituku.
The schools were also expected to have a secure computer lab with UPS and at least 10 computers in good working order, printer and projector and at least one full-time TSC teacher for computer studies.
The Education Broadband Connectivity Project is one of the two key projects recommended for immediate implementation following an ICT Access Gaps study commissioned by the Authority in the 2015/ 16 financial year to determine the levels of access to Information and Communications services in the country.
‘‘The two projects identified for the initial phase were the ‘Voice Infrastructure Project for 2G mobile services in selected sub-locations’ and the ‘Education Broadband Connectivity Project’ geared towards providing high-speed Internet connectivity to learning institutions in the country,’’ said Gituku.
The first group of schools set to be commissioned in six weeks.
Gituku said the project will spur increased broadband connectivity in all parts of the country including rural areas where the beneficiary schools are located.
‘‘The project will greatly improve education through digital learning by enabling access to online content by student and teachers. This will be actualized through creation of an education portal with digitized KCSE curriculum,’’ added Gituku.
It is envisaged that the beneficiary schools will contribute greatly to ICT capacity building and innovation across the country through training for teachers and the students.
‘‘It is the beginning of a long journey towards building a digitally inclusive community that places ICTs firmly at the centre of socio-economic development,’’ said Gituku.
CA Director General Francis Wangusi said the project complements other initiatives that have been put in place by the Authority to enhance access to communications services in various parts of the country.
Currently, the Authority has partnered with the Kenya National Library Services to establish 46 e-resource centres across Kenya.
According to the ICT Access Gaps study, 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.
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.