Director General Francis Wangusi and Principal Secretary Broadcasting and Telecommunication Mr. Sammy Itemere (centre) pose for a group photo with the Universal Service Advisory Council members after their inauguration

Six out of the nine members of the Universal Service Advisory Council USAC were inaugurated today following their re-appointment for another three year term.

The re-appointments were done between 14th March and 9th May 2017 following the expiry of the USAC term in May this year.

Those re-appointed were Dr Catherine Ngahu chairperson, Mrs Towett Josephine Chepkurui, Mrs Masaviru Rodah Awinja, Mr Gacheo Nixon  Mageka Mr Godo Pakia and Michael Maina Itote.

USAC provides advisory role to the Board on all matters, relating to the Universal Service Fund USF including project selection and prioritization.

The USF was established by law to address the disparities that exist in access to ICT services in Kenya. It also acts as an incentive for attracting operators and service providers to rural and high cost areas through provision of subsidies and grants. 

All licencees in the ICT sector contribute 0.5 per cent of their annual gross turnover to this kitty.

Joseph Mucheru, Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Information Communications and Technology said the biggest milestone in the last financial year 2016/17 was the operationalization of the Universal Service Fund.

Since the operationalization of the Fund the Authority has  initiated two major projects through the USF namely Education Connectivity Broadband and the Voice Infrastructure projects in the FY 2016/17.

These projects were initiated through the guidance of the USAC team whose term has been extended to enable continue them offering their wisdom and expertise.

“ I am confident that the team will guide the Authority in the projects implementation to ensure that more Kenyans have access to communication services,” Mr Mucheru said during the inauguration of the re-appointed members.

“The appointment has been staggered to avoid a situation when the Council will have no members when the current term expires. I will be making appointments to the remaining slots very soon,” Mr Mucheru added.

  Francis Wangusi, Director General Communications Authority of Kenya said that the two project that have been initiated by the Authority- the Education School Broadband and the Voice Infrastructure projects- were  guided by findings from an ICT Access Gaps study to determine the levels of access to Information and Communications services in the country.

The study revealed that 5.6% of the population or about 2.66 million people have no access to telecommunication services. About 418 sub-locations have less than half of their population covered by communications services while another 164 sub-locations have no access to 2G mobile services at all.

In addition, the study established that 3G and broadband services are limited to urban areas. Only 2,454 sub-locations have 100% population coverage of 3G and broadband while 1,244 sub-locations have no access to this service at all.

“In line with the above-cited recommendations, the Authority has commenced the implementation of the Education Broadband Connectivity Project, which targets to connect 896 public secondary schools across the 47 counties in Kenya,” Mr Wangusi said.

Payments for goods and service through the mobile money transfer platforms hit Sh627.4 billion in the first three months of the year, demonstrating a higher appetite for the service as an alternative to hard cash and card payment.

According to the Communications Authority of Kenya sector statistics report for three months to March, the volume of transactions on this platform were recorded at Sh471.1 million with Sh1.1 trillion moved during the period.

Mobile commerce recorded a total of 290.5 million transactions. The number of mobile money subscriptions stood at 27.5 million subscriptions whereas the number of active mobile money transfer agents was registered at 174,018 up from 161,583 in the previous quarter.

According to the report, the growth in online shopping could fuel the volume of parcels sent in the near future and the relative ease of shopping online will open up opportunities to buy and sell from people and companies in other countries.

“The telecoms sub sector continues to be a critical element of the economy, laying the groundwork for greater investment in mobile money and as well as for ICT infrastructure growth,” read part of the sector report.

During the quarter under review, telecoms sub sector witnessed mixed trends with the number of mobile subscriptions increasing while the volume of voice and SMS traffic declining when compared to the previous quarter.

The number of mobile subscriptions stood at 39.1 million up from 38.9 million reported during the previous quarter translating to an increase of 0.5 per cent.

Mobile penetration dropped by 2.0 percentage points to stand at 86.2 per cent during the period from 88.2 per cent in the last quarter.

“This is attributed to the review of the country’s population to 45.4 million up from 44.2 million as per the Economic Survey 2017,” read the report.

Pre-paid mobile subscriptions rose to 37.9 million subscriptions up from 37.5 million registered in the previous quarter marking a growth of 1.1 per cent. Post-paid subscriptions declined from 1.4 million posted in the preceding quarter to 1.1 million subscriptions recorded during the quarter under review.

Total traffic originating from mobile network registered a decline of 3.7 per cent during the quarter under review to stand at 10.4 billion minutes from 10.8 billion minutes posted during the previous quarter. Subsequently, the Minutes of Use (MoU) per month per subscription registered a downward trend to stand at 89.0 minutes during the quarter from 92.7 minutes recorded during the previous quarter.

The volume of local Short Messaging Service (SMS) registered during the quarter stood at 12.8 billion messages down from last quarter’s 15.2 billion messages sent representing a drop of 18.8 per cent.

“The significant decline in local SMS is attributed to the end of the busy festive season during which service providers had launched numerous special offers and promotions,” read the report.

The rapid expansion of infrastructure especially fibre optic saw an increase in Internet bandwidth that is available in the country to meet the rising demand.

The postal and courier sub sector demonstrated a downward trend during the quarter under review. The sector experienced a decline in the number of locally sent letters and courier items as well as International outgoing and incoming letters. This was attributed to the end of the high season during the period under review.

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has issued a fresh alert on a virus targeting Windows operating systems that denies users access to data in their computers until ransom has been paid.

The ransomware virus, which goes by the name Petya, is similar to the WannaCry ransomware virus that massively attacked computers across the world in May this year. .

Once a computer has been infected with the virus, it tries to infect other computers within the network and denies users access to their information. The Authority has warned the public against yielding to ransom demands.

To stay safe, the Authority through National Kenya Computer Incident Response Team (KE-CIRT), has advised computer users to observe a number of precautions including ensuring they have an up-to-date back up of their files offline to ensure the information can be easily restored in the event of an attack.

In a press release signed by CA’s Director of Licensing, Compliance and Standards, Mr. Christopher Kemei, the Authority noted the virus had infected computers in many countries across the globe and urged Kenyans to their anti-virus software was up-to-date.

CA also discouraged consumers from clicking on links or opening attachments or email from unknown sources.  

“Unless you trust the source, do not enable macros and instead delete the email immediately and permanently,” cautioned CA. 

The National KE-CIRT/CC is Kenya’s national cyber-crime management trusted point of contact, based at the CA Centre.