23 February 2013

Kenya: Poghisio Appoints USF Board Members

The ministry of Information and Communication has finally published the members to manage the Universal Service Fund which is expected to come to effect by July.

All companies in the communication sector will from July start contributing 0.5 per cent of their revenue towards the fund for ICT development in marginalised and remote areas that are not economically viable to invest in.

Information minister, Samuel Poghisio appointed Francis Kollum to be chairman of the Universal Service Advisory Council, in a Kenya Gazette notice published yesterday.

Other members are Joseph Bett, Joseph Watakah, Rosemary Kilonzo, Rukia Ahmed and Sammy Buruchara who will serve for three years.

The appointments means the operations of the fund may finally start after various delays and disagreements among the government, regulator and players. It is nearly four years after the fund was established in the Kenya Communications (Amendment) act of 2009.

These are the same names as those in a November 20,2012 gazette notice which Poghisio has now revoked.

Communication companies have been demanding to get a slot in the Fund's top advisory council to ensure their contribution is well utilised.

But this list did not contain any representative of the industry players. The fund will be administered under the Communications Commission of Kenya.

The other factors that have led to the delays in operationalising the fund was opposition from licensees over how much should be levied. Originally it was proposed that 1per cent of their revenues be surrendered to the fund but this was strongly opposed and they settled on 0.5 per cent.

CCK director general Francis Wangusi said last year there was low response from the public when they called for applications for those who wanted to be board members.

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