James Ongwae to chair CA’s nine-member Universal Service Fund Advisory Council

The two-month search for the 9-member team to constitute the Universal Service Advisory Council (USAC) has been successfully concluded after Ministry of ICT and Digital Economy gazetted the members of the team.

The USAC provides strategic policy guidance for the administration and implementation of the Universal Service Fund (USF), managed by the ICT industry regulator Communications Authority of Kenya (CA). The naming of the USAC team brings to an end the three-year vacancy in the positions.

(TOP: James Ongwae, the chairperson of the USAC).

The USAC members include Patrick Muriithi Mwati, Dr Amos W Omolo, Lily Cherono Koech, Francis Parsimei Gitau, Joy Frida Nkirote Mutuma, Dr Ferdinand Chirure Nyongesa, Benjamin Kiptanui Rop, and Elizabeth Limagur. The team, to be led by former Kisii governor James Ongwae as the chairperson will serve for a three-year term as from November 15, 2023.

The government began the search for new members of the Universal Service Advisory Council (USAC) in early September 2023. Through the Public Service Commission (PSC), the government advertised the positions of chairperson and eight board members of the Universal Service Advisory Council (USAC).

“Applications are invited from suitably qualified Kenyans wishing to be considered for nomination to the post of chairperson or member of the Universal Service Advisory Council,” stated the PSC advertisement published online. Interested applicants have until September 12, 2023, to submit their details for consideration in any of the 8 vacant positions in the USAC Board.

The USF was set up in 2013 to support widespread access, capacity building, and innovation in information and communications technology services.

The sources of the Fund include levies on licensees, appropriations from Government as well as grants and donations.

The Fund is expected to finance national projects that have significant impact on the availability and accessibility of ICTs in rural, remote and poor urban areas.

The USF draws its finances from contributions from telecommunication service providers, broadcasters, and postal and courier operators, who are required to remit 0.5 percent of their gross annual turnover into the fund.

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) undertook ICT access gap studies in 2016 and 2021 to determine access to ICTs by the public in all areas of the country. To redress the access gaps, the authority has undertaken a number of projects and initiated several others for implementation.

Some of the projects include the deployment of mobile telecommunications infrastructure and services in unserved and underserved areas in Kenya and broadband connectivity to public secondary schools. Others are the open education resources with the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development KICD, the provision of digital content for learners with print disabilities in collaboration with KIB, and the digital dissemination of agricultural content in collaboration with Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organization KALRO. Automation of the police occurrence book in Nairobi with the National Police Service NPS and automation of some court stations in Kenya with the judiciary are some of the ongoing USF projects.

In the mobile voice infrastructure, the Authority has connected 127 sublocations, and projects are ongoing in 118 sublocations. The project has so far ensured mobile connectivity coverage for over 700,000 Kenyans.

With the 9-member USAC team now constituted, the CA is now left with the task of filling the CEO position left vacant following the suspension and subsequent resignation of the Authority’s former DG Ezra Chiloba.


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