Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) Director General Mr. Francis Wangusi (third right), Busia Deputy Governor Kizito Wangalwa (second right) and Broadcasting and Telecommunications Principal Secretary Mr.Sammy Itemere (right) at the CA stand at the Busia County ICT forum,Kikao Kikuu today.The initiative by the Authority seeks to create awareness on consumer rights and obligations within the ICT sector in the counties.

The role of innovations in the information and communications technologies (ICT) sector and their role in socio-economic development, was the centre of discussions at the 13th edition of the County ICT Consumer Forum, popularly known as Kikao Kikuu in Busia County.

Themed ICT innovations for digital inclusion, the event saw stakeholders share ideas on how to reap the benefits of ICTs that have now become great enablers of change in communities, individuals, businesses, industry sectors, and governments.

ICTs have revolutionized how daily activities are accomplished and processes executed.  This has drawn tremendous positive impact on social and economic development of various regions.

Kikao Kikuu, which is hosted, by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) and county governments is a platform of engagement between users of ICT services and their service providers as well as government on the access to and quality of ICT services.

Speaking at the event the CA Director General Mr. Francis Wangusi said ICTs now present a great opportunity for even the smallest business, by reducing the cost of transactions leading to added revenue generation.   He added the Authority will continue to partner with County governments to rope in as many Kenyans to access ICTs.

‘‘The Communications Authority of Kenya is very keen to work closely with the County Governments in an effort to ensure that counties take full advantage of ICTs and the potential they have to spur innovation and other sectors,’ said Mr.Wangusi.

As Kenya increasingly becomes an information society, its economic success and social development are heavily driven by availability and accessibility of information and technology.  ICTs have seen the proliferation of e-services in communication, trade, employment, education, government, and health.

It is for this reason that Broadcasting and Telecommunications Principal Secretary Mr. Sammy Itemere says the government is progressively investing in the deployment of ICT infrastructure as a means of promoting digital inclusion.

‘‘Digital inclusion leads to improved education and employment outcomes. For instance, as individuals enhance their ICT skills, they can greatly improve their earnings and their probability of finding employment,’’ said Mr.Itemere.

He added that besides the laptop programme targeting primary schools in the country, the Ministry of ICT has recently launched a programme dubbed Ajira Digital Program to enable young people gain skills to enable the, work and earn income online.

Mr. Itemere also noted that enhanced access to ICTs increased interaction between citizens as well as their participation in decision-making processes. And in order to achieve greater digital inclusion for the citizens, Mr. Itemere said a number of initiatives can be undertaken, including provision of low cost broadband in the rural areas, promotion of digital literacy and other technology training in trusted and comfortable locations like libraries, community ICT centers, churches and schools, among others.

Busia Governor Sospeter Ojamoong - in a speech read on his behalf by the Deouty governor Kizito Wangalwa- said ICTs have assisted the devolved governments increase revenue collection as well as enhancing service delivery as citizens can now access most of service online.  The County has initiated a number of ICT connectivity projects including establishment of information centres, metro network fibre, among others to boost the ICT uptake.  

‘‘ICTs are an enabler for other sectors of the economy because it has the capacity to accelerate the provision of primary services such as healthcare, education and disaster relief, while strengthening social and economic outcomes,’’ said Governor Ojamoong.

From Busia, the Kikao Kikuu forums head to Baringo, Nyeri and Makueni counties.

L-R: Broadcasting and Telecommunications Principal Secretary Mr.Sammy Itemere, Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) Director General Mr.Francis Wangusi and Bungoma Governor Ken Lusaka unveil a plaque during the handover of 50 computers donated by the CA to St.Mary’s Kibabii Boys High School today. Besides the computers, the support also includes 3 printers, 2 projectors, 2 projector screens and 2 laptops as well as provision of Internet connectivity  for one year.

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has today donated computers and other assorted ICT equipment worth Ksh. 6.4 million to St. Mary’s Kibabii Boys High School in Bungoma.

The donation which is part of CA’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme bolsters the Authority’s wider mandate of enhancing access to ICTs in various parts of the country. 

 It comprises 50 desktop computers, 3 printers, 2 projectors, 2 projector screens and 2 laptops as well as Internet connectivity provision for one year.

Speaking during the hand over ceremony, CA Director General Mr. Francis Wangusi said ICTs have now occupied the centre stage of human progress and as such, ICT skills must be conferred to young people at their formative stages in life.

‘‘To prepare the next generation of innovators, we must expose our youth to ICT skills at a very young age. It goes without saying that individuals with basic ICT skills are likely to have better opportunities in the cut-throat competitive job market,’’ said Mr.Wangusi.

He added that support will not only enable the school offer computer studies as a subject, but also equip students with skills necessary to navigate the competitive job market with is heavily ICT driven. 

The Principal Secretary, State Department for Broadcasting and Telecommunications, Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology, Mr. Sammy Itemere said the Government has placed high premium on ICTs as catalysts for socio-economicdevelopment hence efforts such as the Authority’s are contributing greatly to the realization of Vision 2030.

‘‘It is expected that access to ICTs will contribute to the country’s economic growth by reducing transaction costs, increasing business efficiency, improving educational standards and ensuring accountability on the part of government officials,’’ said Mr.Itemere.

The chief Guest, Bungoma Governor Kenneth Lusaka lauded the Authority’s contribution towards access to ICTs in the region, adding that the county government is also relying on ICTs to ease service delivery to the area residents.

The Governor , also an alumni of the school, challenged the boys to take advantage of the Facility to develop their skill and emerge as reliable ICT knowledge workers in Kenya.

He emphasized the current gravitation towards strengthening ICTs as pillars of the other sectors and called on the Kibabii community to prepare adequately to take part in the digital economy. 

The school with a population of 1500 students will immensely benefit from the upgraded computer lab, which the principal Mr. Mathew Namunwa said will considerably transform the school’s ICT agenda.

Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) chairman Mr.Ngene Gituku (left) and Director General Mr.Francis Wangusi (right) addressing the press on the deployment of the Device Management System today.The Authority refuted claims that the system can access confidential data of mobile phone users.

The Communications Authority of Kenya CA has today refuted claims in the social and local media that the Authority is deploying a regulatory Device Management System (DMS) with the express intention of accessing private data of mobile phone users.

The CA Director General Mr. Francis Wangusi said the deployment of the system is informed by the need to curb counterfeits, illegal termination of telecommunications traffic, and phone models that have not been type approved to work in Kenya.

Such devices potentially compromise quality of service, health of users and environment.

The implementation of this system is also intended to meet the requirements of the East African Region under the Northern Corridor Integration Project Heads of State Summit, which directed each member state to deploy systems that curb illegal by-pass and termination of telecommunications traffic within the context of the ‘One Network Area’.

SIM-boxing, which is used by unscrupulous people to illegally divert and terminate telecommunications traffic, not only poses a security threat but also leads to loss of revenue to both mobile operators and government through evasion of taxes.                                                     

“It is against this background that the Authority has continued to revamp the framework for the management of illegal telecom devices in the country.  Indeed the acquisition of a Device Management System (DMS) is the second phase of the initial initiative that saw Mobile Network Operators switch off all counterfeit mobile devices in Kenya in 2010,” Mr Wangusi said. 

The DMS will be populated by data of all genuine devices (a whitelist), to uniquely identify each device. Once deployed, the DMS shall facilitate denial of service to all illegal communications devices within the country including SIM boxes, counterfeit, substandard, non-type approved and stolen devices.

Mr Wangusi said the Authority has been in extensive consultation with industry and other stakeholders including COFEK and the Mobile Number Operators MNO’s.

 All mobile operators will be required to connect to the DMS and ensure that blacklisted devices do not access mobile services.

“It is important to note here that the system is deployed in a manner that facilitates mobile network operators to make reference to the database of all genuine devices (a whitelist) to solely verify the status of the phone device before providing service to the user.  This is contrary to reports that the system will be extracting subscriber data for use by third parties,” Mr Wangusi added.

The initiative is not new.  Initially, the initiative also saw the establishment of an SMS-based device verification service, dubbed “1555”, for the mobile devices. The main intention for this service was to empower consumers with the ability to verify mobile devices before purchase.  It was later anticipated that the second phase of the initiative against illegal devices would be to address “cloned” devices that are unidentifiable using the 1555 service. 

“I wish to assure the Kenyan public that the Authority remains committed to effective regulation of the sector and protection of public interest in order to maintain confidence in the use of ICT services in the country,” Mr Wangusi said. 

You can read the full statement here.