NAIROBI, November 27 – Kenyans now have four mobile service operators to choose from following the formal launch of Econet Wireless GSM network service dubbed ‘yu’.
Speakers at the Econet launch on Wednesday night expressed optimism that the entry of the ‘yu’ brand into the market would provide many more subscribers with reliable, efficient and affordable mobile phone services, which would effectively contribute to the information and technological revolution in the country.
“I challenged Econet to provide quality services and products in order to survive the stiff competition,” Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who presided over the launch, relayed.
The service will be operating under the 0750, 0751, 0752 prefix numbers and will mainly target the youth.
Mr Odinga also called on mobile phone service providers to lower tariff charges to increase the usage of mobile phones in the country.
Observing that telephone charges especially for roaming services have been exorbitant and out of reach for many, the Premier expressed confidence that increased competition in the sector would have a positive impact on pricing and services offered.
“There is need for mobile phone service providers to address the issue of costs. I believe charges could come down further and that would get more people talking, more businesses running and more people employed,” he added.
Mr Odinga pointed out that the opening up of the telecommunication sector was the best way to ensure a fair playing field that protects consumers from exploitation.
“During the monopoly in the telecommunication sector, services deteriorated and dwindled at the same time. Today, we have embraced the tested philosophy that the private sector, operating in a competitive environment is the best safeguard to the interest of our people who consume services.”
Since the liberalisation of the sector, he said the country had reaped huge benefits in monetary terms and in the improvement and expansion of services, and in the reduction of both the internet and mobile phone services’ costs.
The Premier reiterated that the government would continue to provide an enabling environment for the development of the industry.
At the same time, Mr Odinga forecasted that Kenya would in the next few years become an outsourcing hub if it exploited the potential and strategic advantages such as the large pool of English-speaking, educated workers and the proximity to European and Middle Eastern companies.
He said the government was aware of the potential that the country portends and that was what drove them to invest $100 million in the East African Marine Systems, which is an undersea cable that will connect Mombasa with the United Arab Emirates.
He said the project slated for completion by mid next year, is expected to bring the cost of connectivity down to affordable levels.
Speaking at the same function, Information Minister Samuel Poghisio said the government was keen on reducing the huge disparity in telephone usage between the rural and urban areas.
In this regard, Mr Poghisio challenged telephone service providers to roll out their services to the rural areas to make communication accessible to all at affordable rates.
In a speech that was read by the Public Service Minister Dalmas Otieno, he added that the expansion and improvement of the telecommunication infrastructure in Kenya would transform the country into a communication hub.