The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Mobile Operators Granted Slot in New Board

Mobile operators have demanded representation in the Universal Service Fund's top decision body to keep tab on how the money they contribute is used.

The ministry of Information and Communication have allowed them to nominate one person to the seven-member board to articulate the sectors' interests. "We are constituting a USF committee, they(operators) want a representative on that board. And we accepted they would come together and nominate one person to it," Information and Communication Bitange Ndemo told the Star.

Ndemo said the fund, which will be administered under Communications Commission of Kenya , will be ready to be gazetted in the next one week or so. All CCK licensees- mobile operators,broadcasters, ISPs, postal/courier service providers- will be required to pay 0.5 per cent of their annual turnover to the USF. The money is meant to go towards promoting access to telecommunications services throughout the country especially to neglected and low income areas. "They want to know whether we are making the right decisions on how to use the resources, given they are the ones who will be paying," the PS said on Tuesday after the ministry met the operators. "And I think also to influence to cover certain areas, for example northern Kenya,if we got a tower company to build towers there, they can actually deploy their active equipment and provide services to the people,"Ndemo added.

CCK also recently announced it is exploring the possibility of directing some of the money to subside the cost of set top boxes, to enable effective migration from analogue to digital TV broadcasting. Initially it had been proposed that players should contribute 1 per cent of their revenues to the fund, but this was strongly objected to. This delayed establishment of the USF since it was provided for in the The Kenya Communications (Amendment) act of 2009.

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