What new initiatives is the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) involved in?
WANGUSI: We have tried to come up with a number of ICT initiatives, including the National Broadband Strategy, which we think is going to transform Kenyan's lives through inspiring innovation and creativity in various aspects like banking, agriculture, and education. We believe that having broadband connected to the majority of Kenyans and building capacity for the Kenyans to be able to use ICT is going to create a new avenue for Kenyans to be able to use ICT for the various economic activities.
What are the roles and responsibilities of the CCK?
WANGUSI: CCK is a sector regulator that is, first of all, responsible for the management of the scarce resources such as the spectrum, the numbering resources, and domain names. We are also responsible for the issuance of licenses and enforcement of licenses to ensure that players in the sector are conforming to the requirements of the license conditions. We do also try to create a level playing field by ensuring that competition in the sector is level in order to enable players and to encourage the creation and provision of quality services to Kenyans. We, at the same time, also participate in the universal access project where we ensure that all Kenyans have access to telecommunications and ICT services. As well as participating in normal corporate social responsibility activities in the country.
To what extent does ICT contribute to Kenyan GDP?
WANGUSI: With respect to the contribution of ICT towards the general economy of the country, the situation looks quite positive. I think in the last statistical survey we contributed about 2.6% of the GDP, which looked quite positive. I see the situation continuing, I mean continuing with such an improvement, especially right now with the last ICT indicator surveys that we released. It has shown quite some positive outcomes in terms of mobile phone operators posting some good profits. Also, the improvement in the employment numbers in the ICT sector, some quite creative and innovative activities that so far have come within the sector, all of this implies that the ICT regulation in Kenya is one inspiring development for the country.
Where do you see opportunity for investment in Kenyaâ€™s ICT sector?
WANGUSI: A greater number of opportunities are available in Kenya for investment; we especially want to encourage investors to come and invest in the broadband infrastructure, which is not quite spread. There is a very high affinity for Kenyans to use the Internet, especially given their level of creativity in the use of the broadband services. There is also a demand for devices in Kenya. Like right now for example, the government is looking forward to our project for schools, the laptops for schools starting from the primary school children, and that creates an avenue for a device market in the country. I think that Kenyan's level of innovation is very high; the affinity for Smartphones and other devices related to ICT that can support broadband is very high. So I believe that by companies coming to Kenya even to pitch a tent and create those devices within the Kenyan environment, and to some extent even the larger East African market, I think it will be a very great opportunity for them.
How does CCK promote Kenyaâ€™s ICT sector?
WANGUSI: We do promote opportunities in a number of ways within the country. First of all, we normally try to give out information to the outside would-be investors about the market environment in Kenya. We have also gone to the extent of creating an environment in which players coming in to invest in the country would not find it difficult. We have gone as far as ensuring that the cost of doing ICT business in Kenya is lower. We have further tried to ensure competition by ensuring that those players who are in the country do adhere to the rules without having to bend any rules for any of the players or to the whims of the political systems. For that reason, we have created an environment that everyone would love to be in and to try to do business in, knowing that it is uniform for everybody who has the ability to do their business and create wealth for the Kenyan people.
At the moment, we are recording 16 million Internet users, which is quite a leap from just nearly 9 million about 2 years ago.
What is the Universal Service Fund?
WANGUSI: The Universal Service Fund is a recent fund that we developed whose aim is to try and help the government close the gaps in ICT. We know that quite a number of places in Kenya are not connected because of the socioeconomics, and because of these reasons the government and the CCK have found it very necessary to be able to come up with a fund that would be able to encourage operators to reach areas that could not be commercially viable in order for us to be able to ensure that every Kenyan has an access to the ICT services. So the fund is going to help us, first of all, to not only make sure that infrastructure reaches everybody and closes the gaps, but we're also going to ensure that there is enough content created locally from the artists, by encouraging and developing smart centers, in order for us to be able to use the infrastructure that we have created for the purposes of supporting the socioeconomic development of Kenya.
To what extent is slowing operator investment a concern for you?
WANGUSI: Indeed the slowing down of investments of mobile operators is a very big concern to us but we wouldn't want to say they have slowed so much. I think on the contrary, what we are seeing is too much competition among the operators, and thanks to the regulators decision to make sure that we follow our designated path in reducing the mobile termination rates for them to be able to encourage competition. Of course, the market is, especially the voice market, almostÂ reaching saturation but we are still encouraging them to come up with more innovative ideas in the market. The better market which still has a wider gap, and also newer services like mobile money and banking services and other services that have come up, which have created a new market. Of course, they even created new players who have come to compete with the current mobile operators, in order to be able to tap into this new market that is appearing in the country today. So in my view, there might have been a little bit of slowdown in infrastructure rollout, partly because most of the areas that we expect to be commercially viable to the operators have been reached where a number of people are. But then there is still quite an expansion in terms of new services, new innovation, in order to be able to beat competition in the voice market.
How has the migration to data impacted operatorâ€™s ARPU rates?
WANGUSI: The average revenue per user, or ARPU, has progressed quite significantly. I should say that at the moment, when we look at the number of talking minutes that we are recording today in the country, it has increased significantly. The number of minutes used for data services has increased significantly. The number of SMS messages and even the number of mobile banking services, the transactions that we have recorded in the country, is quite phenomenal. In fact at the moment, we are recording 16 million Internet users, which is quite a leap from just nearly 9 million about 2 years ago. To me that indicates that the affinity for Kenyans to adapt to ICT, despite the fact that there are other socioeconomic problems that they're facing, is quite high. With the fact that the various applications that are coming in are enabling Kenyans to be able to adapt to ICT in the other sectors of the economy, very many Kenyans have now adopted the use of ICT in a number of ways.
What makes Kenya a regionally competitive investment destination?
WANGUSI: Kenya is a destination hub for investors. First of all, I would want to say that besides Kenya providing other good infrastructure in terms of transport, there are of course good destinations for tourism. Kenya has rolled out a good ICT infrastructure network to be able to enable whoever has come to Kenya to get connected everywhere. I think that the laws and policies of Kenya, especially in the ICT sector, are phenomenal in such a way that they enable visitors coming to Kenya to be able to feel at home, to be able to not find any difficulties in trying to get connections to wherever they come from. For that reason, they make whoever comes to Kenya feel that they are just part and parcel of the Kenyan people. This is one of the reasons that Kenya has attracted phenomenal investment in the ICT sector, and other sectors that we are seeing including now the new touted Konza City. That is going to be best ICT structure to be able to realize the socioeconomic development of the country. So I believe that Kenya is a good investment nation in all ways for those who want to invest and those who want to visit, and those who want to see the good and warm hearts of the Kenyan people.