- The Broadband Strategy aims to deliver a nationwide, high-speed internet network as a critical foundation of a digital economy.
- Whereas Kenya's internet speed of about 12Mbps has been celebrated as one of the best in Africa, it does not say much about user experience.
- If we do not want to enact the data protection bill for our own personal safety, we should at least pass it for our own economic survival, since we risk losing out on the export markets to Europe.
- As the first phase of the National Broadband Strategy comes to a close, we must acknowledge that we definitely have a long way to go.
As 2017 winds down, it is important to note that it ends with President Kenyatta’s first term. Several important ICT documents were developed to guide the ICT landscape in the 2013-2017 period.
Two such documents stand out — the 2013-2017 National ICT Master Plan and the 2013-2017 National Broadband Strategy. We will focus on the National Broadband Strategy (NBS) given that it is considered as a key component of Vison 2030.
The vision of the NBS is to transform Kenya into a knowledge-based society by leveraging a high-quality national broadband network. In simpler terms, the Broadband Strategy aims to deliver a nationwide, high-speed internet network as a critical foundation of a digital economy.
But the physical broadband network on its own will never deliver the intended digital economy. There are soft issues around policy, legislation, regulation, content, capacity building and others that need to happen in tandem with rolling out broadband networks.
The NBS had explicit targets for each of these key parameters and we take a look at how we performed.
First and foremost, on the question of a high-quality internet network, we had set an average speed target of 40Mbps and 5Mbps for urban and rural settings, respectively.
Unfortunately, the regulator is yet to start measuring this parameter and so we have had to rely on third-party quality reports that currently estimate our national average speeds at 12Mbps.
Whereas this speed has been celebrated as one of the best in Africa, it does not say much about user experience; in other words, its one thing to have big highways (capacity) but quite another if they are full of potholes.
Kenyan internet users are used to potholes in the form of power blackouts, internet downtimes, congestion and high costs of connectivity, among others, that leave a lot to be desired.
In terms of policy, legal and regulatory frameworks, we continue to await the publication of the revised 2006 ICT policy. Additionally, the Data Protection Bill and Cybersecurity Bill remain pending, yet they are critical pillars in building a digital economy.