The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) this week awarded contracts to five companies to roll out mobile network infrastructure to un-served and under-served areas in the country.
The companies are telecoms operators Safaricom and Airtel Kenya as well as American Towers Company (ATC) Kenya, Seal Towers and Alan Dick & Company (East Africa).
The five firms were chosen out of 11 interested companies in a tendering process valued at 1.57 billion Kenyan shillings (US$14.4 million).
The project is being implemented through the Universal Service Fund (USF) that is trying to bring communications services to Kenya's under-served communities.
Services will be rolled out in 101 sub-locations across Kenya including in the counties of Turkana, Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet, Garrissa, Isiolo, Samburu, Kajiado, Kilifi, Kitui, Laikipia, West Pokot, Narok, Mandera, Tana River, Wajir, Lamu and Marsabit.
The tender was structured into multiple bidding lots and companies were either awarded tenders for active components or passive components and have to deploy the infrastructure components within a period of 24 months.
Safaricom won the lion's share of the active component tender while ATC Kenya got the biggest portion of the passive components category.
The CA said that the awarding of the tenders paves the way for the implementation of Phase 2 of the Voice Infrastructure and Services Project that will spur increased mobile voice and broadband connectivity, and in effect open new possibilities to citizens in the beneficiary areas.
"With the additional 101 sub-locations earmarked in the second phase, the Authority intends to narrow the gap of those un-served and under-served areas in Kenya by the year 2022," said CA acting director general Mercy Wanjau.
Wanjau said that despite commendable growth by the sector, there are still pockets of Kenya that lack basic communications services largely due to geographic isolation, low population density, or perceived low disposable incomes.
The first phase of the project connected over 70 sub-locations covering over 330,300 people spread across 15 counties in Kenya.
The rollout of the USF projects is part of the wider government's effort to ensure that all Kenyan citizens have access to modern, high-quality communication services.
"The deployment of services in the selected sub-locations will facilitate residents of beneficiary sub-locations to enjoy a host of services, including mobile voice, data, Internet and a bouquet of other value-added services, including mobile money," added Ngene Gituku, chairman of the CA board of directors.
*Top image is of representatives from the Communications Authority of Kenya and the companies that won the tender for the infrastructure project (Source: Communications Authority of Kenya Twitter account).
— The Staff, Connecting Africa