The government of Kenya is on an ambitious plan to see more citizens enjoy internet connectivity and bridge the digital gap. This gap is big when you compare individuals living in rural areas to their urban areas counterparts. Then again, Kenya and the larger Africa continent at large have an even greater digital gap when compared to countries in Asia, Europe, and North America.
The Kenyan government through the Ministry of Information, Communication, and Technology (ICT) wants to avail free Wi-Fi to the constituents of the 290 constituencies. The Ministry of ICT has signed a service contract with the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) Committee in the various constituencies.
The Ministry will spearhead the roll-out and management of the ICT facilities that will be providing the Wi-Fi services. The Ministry will support just one Wi-Fi hotspot per constituency. However, the Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency can lobby for more; up to a maximum of four sites per constituency.
The free Wi-Fi hotspots across all constituencies in Kenya, is part of the ruling political party Jubilee promises to the people of Kenya. The party made a pledge in its manifesto before the 2013 general elections when it got elected into office. A promise that is seems to be trying to deliver with just barely a year to the next general elections in 2017.
The Terms of Service Contract; Ministry and CDF Committee
Each constituency’s CDF funds will bankroll the setting up of all the ICT equipment across the 290 constituencies. The cost entails the internet access equipment, which constitutes the satellites, lighting arrestors, Wi-Fi mounts, antennas, routers and solar kits in the event of a power blackout. They will also set up a digital classroom kit with 40 tablets.
On its part, the Ministry of ICT will cater for the recurrent monthly costs for providing the free Wi-Fi connection to the constituents. The burden of monthly internet charges will be lifted off the constituencies’ administrators by the Ministry.
The goals of free Wi-Fi provision
The government wants to boost entrepreneurship and business, by providing them with the infrastructure to leverage on platforms and tools available online. This move is expected to get much traction especially among the youth, and boost innovation and creativity.
It will also go a long way in promoting research for the locals. Open more opportunities in terms of the ability to apply for jobs and scholarships online. The citizens will also be able to access government services online as opposed to travelling to government offices that are usually far away in urban areas or major market centers in the countryside.