Kenya, Huawei join hands to connect 10m rural homes with internet

Kenya is partnering with Chinese tech giant Huawei to digitise rural areas and connect more than10 million homes and 24,000 businesses to the internet.

Director at the ICT Authority, Dr Jerotich Sirma, said the plan that has started by connecting schools and government offices with internet, will see youths trained as the nationwide broadband connectivity is rolled out.

The government’s effort to step up the drive to connect more with internet is part of a broader policy to deliver better public services.

“Broadly, in order to bridge the digital divide, the government aims to train 20 million citizens in the country on digital skills and roll out broadband connectivity to the rural areas under the rural digitization programme. Plans are also underway to digitize rural areas and connect over 10 million homes and 24,000 businesses upcountry to the internet,” Dr Sirma stated during the addition of Bosto Primary School in Bomet to its National Schoolnet Programme.

The ICT Authority and the State Department for Training and Skills Development have been working with the private sector firms such as Huawei to implement last-mile internet connectivity from the government’s fibre optic infrastructure that runs across the country.

The partnership will also see Huawei set up wireless microwave radio link masts in schools and connect them to the National Optical Fiber Backbone Infrastructure (NOFBI).

The connectivity is expected to improve quality of education and transform the lives of learners, helping them gain better opportunities in future while helping them tap into their talents and full potential.

Principal Secretary in the State Department for Training and Skills Development Alfred Cheruiyot said the government targets to connect about 8,000 schools to the internet by the end of 2022, adding that all special needs institutions will be given a priority.

“For us to achieve this ambitious target, we are working with ICT Authority and Huawei to deploy appropriate technologies for schools depending on their locations and technology presence. This includes laying an additional 100,000 kilometres of fibre optic cable countrywide and setting up more microwave and satellite points,” said Mr Cheruiyot.

The last mile internet connectivity to schools within a radius of 10 kilometres of the national fibre optic cable will be delivered using additional masts while those within one kilometre will be connected directly through a new cable to the institution.

“The successful rollout of the Schoolnet program shows that the government will then be able to connect all the 18,000 government offices, 13,000 health facilities, 400 police stations, and 54 Huduma Centres to high-speed internet capacity. Additionally, over 5 billion government manual records will be digitized and all critical government systems automated and integrated to enhance service delivery,” said acting chief executive officer at the ICT Authority, Dr Kipronoh Ronoh.

The ICT Authority has deployed security agencies to protect the infrastructure and asked the members of the public to report any cases of vandalism.

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