CA launches Sh88.6b digital inclusivity plan

Thursday, May 16th, 2024 07:45 | By
CA Centre
Regulator says technology serves as a catalyst for change. file. PHOTO/Print

Kenya’s drive for affordable, reliable, and high-quality communication services has received a significant boost with the launch of a Sh88.6 billion actualisation budget by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA).

In the ambitious five-year strategic plan (2023-2027), technology is recognised as impacting every facet of our lives, from daily tasks to societal functioning, technology serves as a catalyst for change, and economic development is no exception.

Backed by a Sh88.6 billion budget, the CA’s new five-year plan aims to increase internet penetration from its current 40.8 per cent, reaching out to more of the country’s 22.71 million users.

Efforts will focus on expanding both mobile broadband, which already accounts for 93.7 percent of connections, and fixed internet services, provided by competitive players like Faiba, Safaricom, Zuku, Telkom, and Mawingu WiFi.

James Njeru, the Director of Strategy at CA, revealed that the plan includes resource generation strategies projected to yield a substantial Sh117.4 billion in revenues over four years. “We anticipate generating Sh117.4 billion within four years as the projects we implement will bear fruit towards the end of the strategic plan,” he said.

The ultimate goal is to bridge the digital divide and foster financial inclusion. By enabling more Kenyans to access digital financial services, such as mobile banking, the plan aims to stimulate economic growth, enhance communication, and provide access to online resources.

This is particularly crucial in Kenya, where many still lack access to traditional banking services. The plan represents a significant step towards a digitally empowered society.

Finance Bill 2024

Coming at a time when the Kenyan government’s Finance Bill 2024 has sparked debate due to proposed potential rise in costs for phone calls, internet data, and money transfers, the strategy doesn’t speak to how the high costs of communication will be addressed.

National Treasury recommends raising the excise duty on telephone and internet data services from 15 per cent to 20 per cent.

This move could have a ripple effect with telecommunication companies potentially passing on the additional expenses to consumers, leading to higher prices for phone calls and internet access. The regulator’s plan includes two key projects: The establishment of an African Silicon State of the Art ICT Institute of Excellence and an International Convention Centre.  David Mugonyi, CA Director General expressed his belief in the feasibility of providing all Kenyans with digital access.

“We believe Digital access to all Kenyans is possible, and our mission is to enable the development of a sustainable digital society through responsive regulation of Kenya’s ICT sector,” he said.

Mugonyi outlined the four pillars of the strategy - connectivity, consumer empowerment, competitive markets, and organizational efficiency - which will create a robust ICT landscape.

The plan serves as a model for other nations striving for digital inclusivity and positions Kenya as a leader in ICT development in the region. Technology not only drives innovation and fosters growth opportunities but also presents challenges to traditional models of economic development that professionals are accustomed to.

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