Safaricom CEO Asks Gov’t To Consider Telecommunications Infrastructure

Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa with President William Ruto on Monday during the launch of affordable smartphones in Athi river. PHOTO BY KNA

By Roselyne Kavoo

Safaricom Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Peter Ndegwa wants the government to classify telecommunications infrastructure as critical infrastructure to support the government’s agenda of laying 100,000 kilometers of fiber optic in the country.

Ndegwa said although telecommunications companies have invested in modern infrastructure across the country, installation of fiber optics remained a challenge due to lack of proper planning.

‘‘Today one of the biggest issues we have with the network is because of fiber cuts in road constructions and even when people are constructing new buildings whether commercial or residential only provisions for access to water and electricity are made while fibre optic is left out,” said the CEO.

‘‘Because of this lack of provisions for fiber optic, we do a lot of work to install the infrastructure. We are calling on government support to make telecommunications infrastructure a core part of the future,” he added.

Speaking during the launch of East Africa Device Assembly Kenya(EADAK) the first device assembly plant in the country in Athi River on Monday, Ndegwa also asked the government to subsidize locally assembled smartphones to reach a wider population.

‘‘Subsidies are essential just like the way fertilizer has been subsidized to enable access to women groups, students, and any other group that cannot afford it. Rwanda is already doing it and we shall look for partners to support the subsidy agenda so no one is left behind in the digitization agenda,’’ he added.

The CEO underscored the importance of smartphones in transforming the lives of ordinary Kenyans saying the unveiling of the EADAK has the potential to unlock economic growth.

‘‘The smartphones will also be a pathway in access to government services that have been digitized and will also enable Kenyans to get access to endless opportunities in the internet,’’ said Ndegwa.

He further disclosed that Safaricom in partnership with Google will offer affordable smartphones to Kenyans payable in installments.

‘‘So far close to one million phones have been sold since March this year to mostly Kenyans in the rural areas. We are going to expand the initiative to include more smartphones and also reduce the cost of data,’’ said the CEO.

Also present during the launch was Jamii Telecommunications General Manager John Kamau who termed the plant as a major milestone in the telecommunications sector.

‘‘The affordable smartphones will ensure that ordinary Kenyans do not miss out on the services offered by telecommunications companies,’’ said Kamau.


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