NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 5 – Global computer giants Intel and Alcatel – Lucent have teamed up with local firm Kenya Data Networks to develop WiMax, a high-quality broadband wireless technology.
Intel Corporation Chairman Craig Barrett, who was on his first visit to Kenya, announced the agreement and said the technology, would encourage the country’s social and economic development.
The pilot project will be the first in Kenya to use next-generation WiMAX 802.16e technology – better known as mobile WiMAX, which is widely considered an ideal solution for providing high-quality wireless broadband service at an affordable cost.
“Digital access is key to ensuring that Kenya gets a seat at the table in the 21st century knowledge economy,” said Mr Barrett, who also chairs the United Nations Global Alliance for Information Communications Technology (ICT) and Development. “We hope this collaborative effort will create a successful and affordable model for driving broadband use wherever people need it throughout East Africa,” Mr Barrett noted.
Under the terms of the agreement, Alcatel-Lucent will provide the equipment and technical expertise for the mobile WiMAX trial, and Intel will serve as an adviser to assist KDN in bringing the WiMAX connectivity online as quickly as possible.
Intel’s contribution to the effort will include sharing best-known practices from successful WiMAX projects in other countries served by the Intel World Ahead program. The trial project is aimed at paving the way for a much larger-scale WiMAX network in Kenya in the future.
“When we set up the same kind of programs in Ireland it was the poorest in the European Union, now it has one of the richest economies thanks to localised ICT development initiatives,” he said.
As part of Intel’s drive to enable broadband access, Intel and Safaricom also agreed to collaborate on a long-term bundling program, which is set to allow citizens to have affordable ICT access.
Mr Barrett also announced that Kenya’s primary school teachers will begin receiving training through the Intel® Teach program early next year. The Intel® Teach program is designed to enhance classroom learning by training teachers to integrate technology into their lessons.
The program’s launch in Kenya is the result of an agreement that Intel signed earlier with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Cisco, Microsoft and Kenya’s Ministry of Education (MoE).
Meanwhile Mr Barrett also revealed that Intel and the Kenyan ICT Board will collaborate on developing localized content for the Intel® skoool™ Learning and Teaching Technology, which is an interactive Internet resource for learning math and science.
“Its one thing to try and make the youth conversant with the development of new technologies but this would further work much better if their teachers are also as well equipped or even better,” he noted.
The Kenya ICT Board will deploy the content in more than 300 Pasha Centres throughout Kenya. The Pasha centres provide a suite of services to the public via computers connected to the internet.
“Localized content in terms of maths and geography that makes sense to the Kenyan youth is also crucial in fully tapping in the IT explosion that will hit this country once the fibre optic cable is in place,” Mr Barrett said.