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Kenya plans Sh300 million free Internet in villages

Kenya plans Sh300 million free Internet in villages

The internet is no longer a luxury, nice-to-have utility. It's a crucial enabler of economic development.That is why we should all be internet advocates, of advancing internet access across the country, making it affordable and keeping it open, fast and secure. Kenyans will soon access free Wi-Fi countrywide courtesy of a Sh300 million State project. 

ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru told The Standard yesterday the ministry will next week start the process of recruiting a contractor to put in place infrastructure for innovation hubs in the 290 constituencies. He said roll-out of the initiative will start as early as next month. 

Mr Mucheru said the project will allow residents within a 200m radius of any Wi-Fi hot spot access free internet. 

The project is expected to spur innovation not just in urban areas, but also in far-flung areas and play a critical role in transforming Kenya into a knowledge-based economy. “Each constituency will have at least four centres that will provide free Wi-Fi,” said Mucheru said when he paid a courtesy call on Standard Group Chief Executive Sam Shollei. 

Mr Shollei said The Standard Group’s major responsibility is to report the truth. “We are committed to what builds Kenya,” he said. The CS said infrastructure for the project will include a satellite dish, smart devices, among other accessories. The ministry has already installed such hubs on a pilot basis in Limuru and Mombasa. The plan, he said is to have about 1,000 innovation hubs across the country.


Under the project, the ICT ministry together with private sector players will provide connectivity to the hubs and cater for internet costs as well as other recurring charges across the 290 constituencies. 

The constituencies through the Constituency Development Fund will provide buildings to house the hubs and buy computers for public use.

The ministry will support one site per constituency. However, MPs can lobby for support for up to four sites in their constituency. The free internet initiative is part of the Government manifesto to enhance internet and information access around the country in an effort to establish a digital economy.

Mr Mucheru said the innovation hubs will put Kenyans in marginalised areas at par with the rest of the country and the world in terms of information access. 

He said Kenyans will now be able to effectively participate in the digital economy, through access to services and opportunities that were previously inaccessible to them. 

The Wi-Fi equipped innovation hubs will upgrade the digital literacy levels of constituencies, hence complementing the government’s Digital Literacy Programme, which aims to instill digital skills among young children by availing tablets to primary schools around the country.

The CS said the Government will work with players to grow the industry and not stifle it.

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