Kenya to launch US$500 million 4G network

Mwangi Mumero Kenya 4GKenyan government officials said that 4G technology will be rolled out across the country despite criticism from industry experts. (Image source: fensterbme/flickr)Kenya plans to roll out a US$500mn 4G network, even though industry players continue to question the timing and viability of the project

In late November 2012, the government launched a search for a financial consultant to help formulate a public-private partnership to roll out high-speed connectivity on the 4G platform.

The consultant will undertake a detailed financial evaluation of the partnership between the government, institutional investors, mobile operators and equipment vendors.

Mobile operators have however questioned the viability of the 4G network, arguing that even the performance of the 3G has been wanting.

Bob Collymore, CEO of Safaricom, observed, “We launched the 3G a while back and the uptake has been poor. What makes us think subscribers are going for 4G? We should concentrate on driving the uptake of the 3G.”

Other service providers such as Airtel Kenya and Telkom Orange have also raised similar concerns, highlighting the low penetration of the already rolled out 3G.

Information and communications permanent secretary Dr Bitange Ndemo has however affirmed that the government is determined to have the network working by March 2013 during the national elections.

Meanwhile, the government is rolling out a US$5mn project that will see the installation of 53 surveillance cameras in Nairobi’s Central Business District (CBD).

A Chinese company, Ms Nanjing Les Information Technologies, is implementing the project, with completion expected by the end of January 2013.

The systems will have a control room where all communications will be co-ordinated and a red circle will be put on repeat offenders or a wanted criminal.

It will also provide live streaming of video from different parts of the city as well as record and store footage for later viewing.

Jamleck Kamau, the Nairobi metropolitan development minister, said, “The cameras will have face recognition capabilities, making it easier to record footage of criminal acts and police officers taking bribes.”

Recent data from the Kenya Police showed that Nairobi recorded a 40 per cent surge in crime last year, making it necessary to invest in surveillance equipment.

Crime-ridden areas such the CBD, Kirinyaga Road, Gikomba, Kenyatta National Hospital, Country Bus Station and Muthurwa market will have the surveillance cameras.

Other places where the cameras will be installed will include Kencom Bus stage, Railways terminus, KICC, Tea Room, City Market, Macmillan Library, Gill House, Odeon Cinema and near Afya House – all within the CBD.

 

Mwangi Mumero

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