Kenya may regulate Internet pricing


In what is probably an indication that

the government will regulate

Internet prices, the Communications

Commission of Kenya (CCK) has

said that the ongoing call charges

study will also contain

guidelines on connectivity charges.

CCK Director General Charles Njoroge

told reporters on Tuesday that

as much as the government would

want market forces to determine

the Internet charges, the bandwidth costs

are still out of reach for many Kenyans.

"We believe Internet costs are not

coming down as fast as possible and

we will be very keen to follow and

ensure that it is accessible and

the pricing in the market is right,"

he said.

However he made it clear that this

was being implemented as a last resort.

"We would not like to do price control.

However if there are issues of prices

that are not right, there are

always interventions," he added.

Information Permanent Secretary

Dr Bitange Ndemo kicked off

the debate in September when

he issued an ultimatum to the

Internet Service Providers to bring down

the prices in 30 days failure to which

the CCK would be forced

to regulate the charges.

The threat raised a hue and cry from

the operators who argued that

they were unable to cut the prices

abruptly as many were still relying

on the expensive satellite

capacity for back up.

However earlier this month,

Dr Ndemo expressed satisfaction

with the current connectivity prices

saying they had reduced to

at least Sh15,000 per megabyte.

"I must say that I'm happy.

The market forces are forcing

them down so I'm not very disappointed...

I'm just happy that my dreams

were realised within the period

that I promised," he had told

Capital Business and further

expressed optimism that

the prices would come down further.

The guidelines from a study which

was commissioned to review

the interconnection calls charges

are expected to be implemented

in March 2010 and it remains

to be seen whether the government

will follow through and enforce them.

Despite the Internet price standoff 

however, the PS said he expected

Internet penetration in the country

to rise bolstered by

the operationalisation of

the fibre optic cables that have

more than 2.48 Terabits per second.

At a CCK Stakeholders Consultative

Forum on ICT regulation, Dr Ndemo

said the broadband capacity was

huge and able to accommodate

much more traffic.

"Internet usage is bound to rise

above the current 3.6 million as

Kenyans enjoy better speeds and

higher data traffic," he said through

the ministry' Deputy Secretary of

Administration Henry Mung'asia.

He however acknowledged that this

development would bring with it

challenges such as cyber security due

to the transformation of media

and content landscape.

The PS however assured that they

were seeking proposals on how

to improve regulations contained

in the Kenya Communications

(Amendment) Act of 2009 to address

such issues and ensure that

the sector, which contributed about

Sh12billion to the GDP, continues

to make positive contribution

to the growth of the economy.

The Act is expected to be enacted

in January 2010 with the aim of

helping to leapfrog the country

into the digital era.

Link here

Sent from Kigali, Rwanda

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