Kenya’s ICT Authority has launched the construction of a 630 km high speed fibre optic cable in the northern part of the country a move aimed at opening up the region.
The high speed fibre optic cable construction project is jointly funded by both the government of Kenya and World Bank to the tune of Kenya Shillings 3 Billion.
The Turkana County Governor Josephat Nanok, who was the Chief Guest at the ceremony, said that upon completion the main build project will benefit communities, government agencies and businesses in the North Rift region of Kenya, which includes the Counties of Turkana, West Pokot, Trans Nzoia and Uasin Gishu, as well as parts of Kakamega County, as well as promote cross-border trade with our neighbor, South Sudan.
“Towns such as Eldoret, Kitale, Lodwar, Kakuma, Lokichar and Lokichoggio will greatly benefit from the new high speed fibre optic cable in line with the Ministry of ICT’s long term plans to transform lives through smart ICT infrastructure which bridges the digital divide and brings prosperity to the remotest parts of Kenya,” he said.
Speaking during the event, the Ministry of Transport & Infrastructure representative Eng. James Kungu said the high speed fibre optic cable construction project has been under implementation from November 2015 and will close in December 2021.Besides the fibre optic cable, the World Bank will finance construction of 338 km of the road from Lokichar to the border with South Sudan and build Kainuk Bridge which will enable all-season transport between Turkana and West Pokot counties.
“In the recent past, the Government and the World Bank have shifted project design from the traditional sector-specific project activities to a more inclusive multi-sectoral approach. This has seen the enhancement of collaboration amongst several sectors including ICT, Transport, trade and industry, among others. This has had the effect of enhancing project results and widening the beneficiary communities,” he said in a speech read by Eng. James Kungu, Chief Engineer Roads on behalf of the Principal Secretary, State Department of Infrastructure Professor Paul Maringa.
On her part, ICT Authority CEO Dr. Katherine Getao said. “The ICT Authority has completed rehabilitation of fibre optic cable from Eldoret to Nadapal, with part of the route being completed using a wireless solution. This section of the project will provide connectivity between Northern Rift part of Kenya to the counties of Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, Turkana and West Pokot.”
She appreciated the close collaboration that has been fostered by the ICT, Roads and Energy sectors leading to the development of more cost-effective and sustainable infrastructure through an integrated approach.
Speaking during the ground breaking for commissioning of the EARTTDFP project in Nadapal, she said the internet connectivity with speeds of up to 100 Gbps supported by fibre and speeds of up to 1 Gbps supported in places where radio infrastructure was deployed.
The ICT infrastructure will be used to connect public and social institutions including hospitals, government offices and schools. Part of the capacity will be leased to telecommunications operators to raise funds to support good maintenance.
The ICT Authority Chairman Prof. Fredrick Owino said Kenya is an ICT hub to its regional neighbours and the government has an ICT Infrastructure Master Plan to guide the development of ICT infrastructure throughout Kenya.
He said that the mandate of the ICT Authority is to provide connectivity to all parts of the country and to provide digital services to all parts of the country with equity as articulated in the FY 2020-24 Strategic Plan that promotes the development of digital infrastructure to enable the digital economy.
“We are delighted to successfully complete a project that is designed to deliver socio-economic transformation to North Western Kenya and to commence the main build which will develop a huge information highway from the heart of Kenya to the border with our East African Neighbour: South Sudan,” he said.
The World Bank representative, Eng James Theuri noted that as a development partner, that the activity on rehabilitation of the FOC is complete and ICT services restored in the four Counties.
“We are delighted with the successful completion of the rehabilitation and the progress that has been made towards the construction of the Main Build cable,” he said.
The two projects are part of the Kshs 54 billion (US$ 500 million) South Sudan-Eastern Africa Regional Transport, Trade and Development Facilitation Program (EARTTDFP) that connects Kenya and South Sudan through the laying of a fibre-optic cable and construction of a superhighway.
This is part of a wider government of Kenya program that seeks to support Kenya’s economic development strategy and address the mounting pressures to enhance connectivity to the northern parts of Kenya and South Sudan to the Port of Mombasa.
The project has increased internet connectivity to the local communities and enabled high speed internet access to key government institutions including Huduma Centres, County Commissioner officers, police stations, schools and provided numerous employment opportunities to the youth especially during construction.
The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Authority was established in August 2013 and is tasked with rationalising and streamlining the management of all Government of Kenya ICT functions including enforcing ICT standards in Government, implementing public ICT infrastructure projects and enhancing the supervision of its electronic communication.
The Authority also promotes ICT literacy, capacity, innovation and enterprise in Kenya.