The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has today called on information and communications industry actors to be more aggressive in participating in initiatives that will enhance access telecommunication and digitization.
According to Matano Ndaro, Director Competition, Tariffs and Market Analytics at CA, the actors have steadily grown in number, with new ones like the non-bank financial service providers and fintechs also emerging rapidly and there’s need for them to sustain the momentum of initiatives that the regulator is keen to license to leverage on connectivity, new technologies and data analytics in the market.
While giving a glimpse of the market during the CIO Year Ahead Forum themed: Driving Innovations in Organizations, Ndaro noted that mobile subscribers in Kenya today stand at around 46.6 million. Data/internet subscribers are past the 42 million mark, yet the usage of the 4,623.3 Gbps international bandwith available is merely 21 percent.
Ndaro pointed out that eCommerce is proving its potential with the value of mobile commerce transactions now well beyond 1.552 trillion in a quarter. These statistics show how much this industry has grown and the potential it has to catapult Kenya’s digital economy.
The regulator asserted that the sector is currently witnessing dramatic transformations, in both emerging and mature markets and the question being raised to the industry regulator is: how do we regulate the industry for better innovation outcomes?
It is no secret that regulating the ICT sector is admittedly challenging and calls for a critical balance if we are to realize the intended benefits. It is evident that regulation and regulatory reform can have both positive and negative effects on the innovation process.
According to Ndaro, the regulatory reform that is taking route in the country is intended to enhance the positive regulatory effects on innovation in a bid to capitalize on the growth in Internet and broadband services has paved the way for many new services and applications, and regimes are now challenged to ensure that regulations remain fully responsive to changes in the economic, social and technical conditions.
Ndaro pointed out that many regulators around the globe are still grappling with decisions on how to regulate emerging ICTs such as Over The Top (OTT) services, Internet of Things, Big Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence and Block chain, among others.
“Amidst the challenges, which we continuously seek to tackle, the Authority is focused on promoting development of the National ICTs infrastructure and connectivity. You will be pleased to know that we issued license for 800 MHz LTE (4G) to Airtel and granted a six months trial period extension to Telkom Kenya to roll out the 4G network on trial basis,” said Ndaro, .
ICTs now have a greater role in the development of digital financial services, health, education, agriculture, manufacturing, and transportation services, among others. These emerging innovations are accompanied by issues related to security, privacy, data protection and intellectual property thus further complicating developing attendant regulations.
From the regulatory point of view, some of the key challenges in regulating an innovative industry include: licensing of new services such as IoT aggregators, white space operators, aligning spectrum management policies to changing regulation based on the service and technology; new numbering and addressing requirements in the era of IoTs; International roaming; Interoperability and Standards; Data protection, privacy, consumer protection and Security; Competition and tariff regulation; Quality of Service and Experience, and Universal service initiatives, just to name a few.
“Amidst the challenges, which we continuously seek to tackle, the Authority is focused on promoting development of the National ICTs infrastructure and connectivity. You will be pleased to know that we issued license for 800 MHz LTE (4G) to Airtel and granted a six months trial period extension to Telkom Kenya to roll out the 4G network on trial basis.”
Matano Ndaro, Director of Competition, Tariffs & Market Analysis, Communications Authority of Kenya
At the moment CA has embarked on implementation of Universal Service Fund (USF) programmes which included roll-out of voice infrastructure in sub-locations without basic voice coverage across the country and roll out of broadband connectivity to secondary schools identified by a criteria agreed upon by the Authority and Ministry of Education. The Authority has since concluded roll out of basic voice infrastructure in 60 sub-locations out of 78 and provided broadband connectivity to 502 secondary schools out of the select 882 all scheduled under phase one of USF Progammes.