ICT investors urged to target rural areas

August 2, 2008 12:00 am
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, NAIROBI, August 2 – President Mwai Kibaki has challenged investors in the Information, Communication and Technological sectors to redirect their focus on the rural areas where majority of Kenyans live.

The President said Kenyans were also expecting to see a major reduction in connectivity charges due to improved government incentives and cheaper technologies now available to Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) companies.

President Kibaki said the government was motivated by the dream of creating a modern and efficient telecommunications infrastructure and making Kenya a regional service centre.

"We have achieved substantial progress in liberalizing the telecommunications industry in our country. What Kenyans now expect is to reap the full benefits of these achievements in terms of cheaper telephone services and increased access," said the President.

Speaking at the Nairobi National Museum during the official inauguration of Celtel-Zain re-branding and the entry of Zain Brand in Kenya, President Kibaki noted that mobile telephony should offer a dependable means of communication to rural areas where a huge chunk of economic activities are based.

Said President Kibaki, "Indeed, we are already observing that growth in mobile telephony has provided a reliable form of communication to rural communities, thereby enabling our farmers to find markets for their produce."

During the occasion, President Kibaki hailed Zain International for their innovativeness of the ‘One Network Concept’ which will greatly cut the costs of roaming charges across the continent particularly for businessmen.

The President observed, "This has not only enabled businesses to operate at lower costs, but has also made communication cheaper for families that live across borders."

With regard to the growth of the ICT sector, the Head of State said that his government removed duty on all computers and computer accessories including telecommunications equipment.

President Kibaki noted, "As a result of the suitable policy environment created by my government, the number of mobile telephone lines increased phenomenally from 20,000 seven years ago, to more than 12 million currently. Kenyans are now able to communicate easily and carry out their economic activities more efficiently."

He reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to invest both in the terrestrial and undersea fibre-optic cables to not only increase but also improve the quality of bandwidth available to global connectivity to link the East African region to the Global Submarine System.

The President observed that access to knowledge and information is vital to empowering citizens particularly the youth so as to overcome and prepare themselves adequately for the 21st century challenges.

President Kibaki noted, "As a result of the suitable policy environment created by my government, the number of mobile telephone lines increased phenomenally from 20,000 seven years ago, to more than 12 million currently. Kenyans are now able to communicate easily and carry out their economic activities more efficiently."

With regard to the Vision 2030, President Kibaki said that the Government visualized improved volume of economic activity under the knowledge-based industries or knowledge intensive industries.

He revealed that the plan was to develop the capability of manufacturers of ICT products and assembling of equipment for local distribution at affordable costs.

The Head of State also commended the mobile phone services provider for sponsoring a wide range of projects in education, arts and culture particularly those targeting the youth.

Speaking during the same occasion Information and Communications Minister, Samuel Poghisio, expressed confidence that the mobile phone company would lead the way in improving the livelihoods of Kenyans by guaranteeing availability of accessible, efficient, reliable and affordable ICT services.

Poghisio noted that countries that have harnessed the potential of information and communication technologies have attained significant social and economic development while at the same time transforming into information and knowledge based economies.

Zain International Group Chief Executive Officer, Dr Saad Hamad Al Barrack reaffirmed the company’s vision of becoming one of the world’s top ten mobile service providers by 2011.

Dr Saad said that the re-branding and relaunching of the Zain brand took place in 14 countries in Africa at the same time and joined together over 500,000 million customers across Africa and Middle East.

He said that the company’s ‘One Network Concept’ not only greatly reduced roaming charges across Africa but also enabled customers to access airtime from over 1 million outlets in the region.

 

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