Government seeks to persuade local authorities to ease fibre burden

12 Jul 2011

According to Business Daily, the Kenyan government is hoping to convince the country’s local authorities to invest in fibre-optic cables in an effort to reduce the exorbitant cost of broadband in the country. Prices were widely expected to fall following the arrival of submarine cables, such as EASSY, TEAMS and SEACOM, but it has now emerged that prices are still prohibitively expensive due to the wayleave access fees charged by city councils to internet service providers (ISPs). Business Daily reports that some local authorities charge up to KES200,000 (USD2,186) in wayleave fees for a two-kilometre cable, and demand KES3,000 from operators who open manholes for maintenance. Elsewhere, building owners request as much as KES400,000 annually to allow fibre connectivity in their premises – a cost which is inevitably passed onto the consumer.

Acting on the directive of President Kibaki, information permanent secretary Dr Bitange Ndemo, indicated that consultations regarding the new plans will begin on 18 July. Ndemo commented: ‘The government is going to engage local authorities to invest in metro fibre cables and be paid on usage instead of charging the ISPs exorbitant fees’. Building owners will be asked to treat the cables ‘like other utility services such as water and electricity, by not charging any fee’. During the launch of the government’s new Open Data website, President Kibaki stated: ‘Kenyans are not yet enjoying the full benefits of fibre optic connectivity. Internet services are going to play key role in the development of this country, however, the high internet prices still remain a barrier and which must be looked into to make it affordable’.

Kenya