Nairobi Star Newspaper Robert Onsare: How Kenyans can Tap Huge Benefits From the Fibre Optic Cable

Information PS Bitange Ndemo's proposal for a grace period of one month to Internet operators to lower the access costs following the launch of the fibre optic cable is welcome.

The cable will provide high capacity to local communities via applications such as e-commerce, e-learning and social interaction at the local, national and international level.

This will give Kenyans an opportunity to be at par with the rest of the world in communication.

Indeed, a lot has changed in the society ever since blogs were embraced by Kenyans — individuals and groups can express themselves without fear of victimisation.

With the launch of the information superhighway, Kenyans can create a lot of local content that was hitherto unknown to the outside world.

Creating the local data mines will unveil the potential of Kenyan villages to the entire world which will result in increased earnings from their products.

Harnessing of the fibre cable will bridge the technological gap that exists between developed and underdeveloped countries. Introduction of the cyber cafes at villages will enable the government to formulate people-oriented policies now more than ever before.

Most of the time politicians talk without facts but with the introduction of the digital villages, the available information will usher Kenyans into .issue-based politics and perhaps see to the demise of ethnicised politics. The media too will benefit in securing right and timely information as a public watchdog.

Indeed East Africa is at the onset of a communications revolution never witnessed before.

Governments and corporate users in the region need to prepare adequately for the transition to maximise the benefits.

Nevertheless there is an urgent need for new approaches to financing infrastructure to address the large demand for information services. Technological innovation helps make these new approaches possible and more flexible to financing, service delivery and regulation will make them effective and sustainable.

The government's plan to set up the digital villages in every sub-location is commendable. This will enable Kenyans to access data from their respective villages so the people's needs are addressed with the urgency they deserve. This will change the paradigm shift which will witness rural areas becoming the epicentre of government operations.

The confirmation by Ndemo that the first batch of 15,000 youth from across the country is on training — with the support of the World Bank — on local content collection is a step towards globalisation.

Generating local content will require finances as well as creativity and innovativeness in ICT technologies. The cable will enable communities to undertake government business in outsourcing work to gain income.

The ICT sector contributes up to 50 per cent of GDP in countries that have embraced it fully such as South Korea, Malaysia and India.

Furthermore, hybrid systems will be the order of the day with the fibre cable.

Wireless broadband and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) will be boosted substantially as available bandwidth multiplies dramatically. Satellite and wireless technologies will not be rendered useless as they will complement both data and VoIP services to businesses, homes, government and developmental users in rural and urban settings.

Smaller enterprises are expected to be the economy drivers of the future if the example of social networks such as Youtube, Twitter, and Facebook is emulated.

The fibre cable will certainly accelerate Kenya's growth into a knowledge-driven society that requires intelligence and ingenuity. How much we can tap from the fibre cable is limited by one's capacity — as broadband is a passport to the cyber world.

This will be the solution to 60 per cent unemployment of Kenyan youths.

It's an open secret that ICT plays a very important role in jump-starting socio-economic development. It is projected that by 2012 all African capital cities and major towns will be interconnected and all villages by 2015.

By 2006 Kenya was ranked 153 in the world in Internet access and 27 in Africa, not withstanding being a leader in Eastern Africa.

It's a challenge for local communities to develop innovative services, determine appropriate ownership, model civil societies and establish networks to share experiences at the grassroots.

There is a need for regulators, policymakers, vendors, service providers and users to network and share knowledge as a catalyst to stimulate technologies for multiple connectivity across East Africa.

Onsare is an electronics technologist at the University of Eastern Africa, Baraton.

This entry was posted in . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Nairobi Star Newspaper Robert Onsare: How Kenyans can Tap Huge Benefits From the Fibre Optic Cable

Anonymous said...

This is a practical way of approaching our changes as Kenyan. Let the Kenyan youth match forward with determination and zeal, hard work and diligence to harness the opportunity that the cable will usher in.