Counties told to stop levying fee to Internet firms laying cables [Nation (Kenya)]
(Nation (Kenya) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Counties have been warned against levying fees to Internet service providers, saying this could slow down the expansion of services.
In an interview with the Sunday Nation, Information, Communication and Technology Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i said the national government was peturbed by the growing tendency of counties to charge the way–leave fees, saying this could disappoint investors.
"We don't have a problem with counties generating revenue, but we discourage them from imposing fees on investors laying terrestrial fibre in different parts of the country," Mr Matiang'i said.
"This will make it difficult for the achievement of the national broadband strategy launched recently," he said.
Telecommunications infrastructure, especially broadband, is key to delivery and accessing of central government services such as filling of tax returns online.
The minister said that while the government appreciated its responsibility to ensure connectivity to all the 47 counties, it lacks financial capabilities to develop a robust network that goes to all parts of the country and hence the importance of the private sector.
"National economic development and prosperity cannot be achieved in the absence of a robust and vibrant broadband ecosystem. The government has been scouting for public private partnerships to build a strong network but this needs to be supported through giving incentives," he added.
During the Safaricom's annual general meeting a few weeks ago, chief executive Bob Collymore, warned that counties charging way-leave fees risked being shunned by investors.
THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES
"We would urge county governments to resist the temptation to levy new fees on telecommunications infrastructure," Mr Collymore said.
He said this would inevitably cause mobile operators not to give priority to those counties.
Mr Matiang'i called on the county governments to consider other revenues sources instead of standing in the way of the objectives of the national broadband strategy which envisages having internet connectivity in all Kenyan households by 2017.This comes a month after Laikipia County stopped Jamii Telcoms Limited, a local Internet services firm, from laying a fibre optic cable in the county demanding that the company pays way-leave fees.The county government demanded Sh600 for every metre excavated by the firm.
Kiambu County government has also made public its intention to charge levies on companies laying fibre optic cables.
The minister is now calling for the harmonisation of policies that would encourage ICT infrastructure development.
The national government has promised to work with counties to ensure effective implementation of the information communication technology masterplan launched last month.
The plan proposes a Sh250 billion budget to develop broadband infrastructure, content and innovations.
Kenya is only the second country in Africa, after South Africa, to launch an elaborate national broadband strategy.
Mr Matiang'i said his ministry was working on a proposal discouraging counties from attaching high levies on ICT projects.
The proposal also encourages county governments to allocate more funds in their budgets to information communication technology.
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