CIO East Africa (Nairobi)

12 June 2014

Kenya: Police Control Hub to Be Up in 6 Months

A central command, communication and control centre will be set up for the National Police Service in the next six months as the first phase of a Sh15 billion project contracted by the government to Safaricom.

It is also visualized, in the second phase, to be completed in two years, to install 1,800 spy cameras in strategic locations in Nairobi and Mombasa.

According to The Daily Nation, the cameras will have automatic face and vehicle number plate recognition ability to help security agencies pick out criminals even from crowded streets.

At this stage, Safaricom will be further required to build an independent 4G network for the police and supply 7,600 modified walkie-talkies.

The radio communication gadgets will be fitted with SIM cards and will have photography and videography capability.

Footage from the CCTV cameras and the hand-held devices will be relayed in real time to the central command centre, helping security teams to respond faster and more accurately to crime. The communication system will be connected real time to 600 police vehicles.

The 4G network, which is the latest mobile technology, will be fully dedicated to police in line with the guidelines of the International Telecommunication Union, of which Kenya is a member.

"The management and access to the communication channels will be the sole reserve of the National Police Service. Safaricom's role is to procure and install the devices and ensure a stable network. It will have no visibility over the police operations," said a source who is familiar with the details of the contract.

The third and final phase will involve scaling up of the entire system from Mombasa and Nairobi to cover other major cities, the source, who cannot be named because of the sensitivity of the contract, said. The scaling up will be based the government's plan and is not covered in the Safaricom contract.

On completion of the project, Safaricom will be expected to have put up a radio communication, CCTV surveillance, command and control systems.

The mobile firm will have also established video conferencing facilities, automatic vehicle location services and connected 195 police stations to the Internet.

The deal requires it to provide a warranty and spare parts for five years in which it will maintain and support the system.

Building the system will cost Sh12.7 billion, while maintenance and support for five years has been estimated at Sh2.2 billion, totalling to Sh14.9 billion.

Safaricom will raise the entire amount and deliver the project without a profit margin. However, the government will reimburse it after handing over of the project.

First, Sh7.5 billion will be paid through allocation of spectrum of an equal value to Safaricom after the national digital migration. The balance will be paid in annual instalments over five years, beginning in 2016.

For its part, Safaricom will benefit by getting additional spectrum to increase its network capacity to enable it to expand its service.

Analogue to digital:

The Communications Commission of Kenya is expected to auction the additional spectrum that will be freed upon migration from the analogue to digital broadcasting, next year. It is from that auction that Safaricom will get the Sh7.5 billion worth of spectrum.

That allocation will be a big win for the telecom, which has, for years, struggled to meet service quality standards as set by the CCK due to congestion in its network, which currently has more than 21 million subscribers.

However, the two parties have yet to sign the deal after the National Assembly Departmental Committee on Administration of Justice and National Security questioned the manner in which Safaricom was given the contract.

The tender has been the subject of controversy for years. Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE locked horns in court over it last year.

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