NAIROBI, Kenya, May 19 – Kenya Data Networks (KDN) in partnership with Digital Village network is set to provide free Internet services to Kenyans, in a bid to bridge the digital divide in the country.
KDN Chief Marketing Manager Vincent Wang’ombe said the gap between people with effective access to digital and information technology and those with very limited or no access, has slowly increased over the years, and is now at worrying levels.
“This includes the imbalances in physical access to technology as well as the imbalances in resources and skills needed to be fully a digital citizen,” he said.
According to www.internetstat.com, only about 8.7 percent out of the 991 million people in Africa have access to Internet penetration. This is in comparison to 76.2 percent Internet penetration in North America, which has a population of 340 million.
Mr Wang’ombe said an attempt to bridge this disparity is therefore necessary especially if the country is to achieve its Vision 2030 goals.
“This unequal access by some members of society to information and communication technology, and the unequal acquisition of related skills is the reason why KDN and ictvillages.com felt it necessary to begin this program,” he added.
The manager said that through this partnership, an individual would be able to pay a onetime fee of Sh58,000 to upgrade buildings and computers in their location.
Thus Kenyans residing close to these areas will be able to enjoy affordable access to high speed global Internet via the new submarine fiber-optic cables.
“This upgrade allows users to send and/or receive email, read local newspapers, visit websites hosted in Kenya, download government content, and also view opportunities online,” Mr Wang’ombe said.
Such services will be offered free of charge, which will not only benefit the ordinary citizen but will also help businesses improve their facilities and increase their revenues.
In return for providing free local Internet, commercial buildings can for instance raise their rent while schools can charge an extra amount for e-learning in the schools with digital villages, he pointed out.
“By upgrading their building into digital villages, building owners will benefit from increasing the value of their properties, attracting more people to their premises, and generating revenue from sale of scratch-cards for global internet access,” the manager added.