In the run-up to 2013 elections, Jubilee promised to deliver free Wi-Fi to major towns in the country. To keep up with the promise, the Government has partnered with Nakuru county to deliver the first free Wi-Fi in Nakuru town in a project that will cost the government Kshs 200 million.
Speaking during the launch, Director of digital communications at State House Dennis Itumbi said the government is up beat in keeping the free Wi-Fi promise it made to Kenyans during the campaigns. He emphasized that the free Wi-Fi in Nakuru is but a pilot project and soon after its completion free Wi-Fi in other towns will follow. The next stop will be Kisumu City.
Nakuru Governor Mr. Kinuthia Mbugua said that his government will deliver connectivity to farmers using the free Wi-Fi project, ensure institutions of higher learning access information for improved research and open up opportunities to business men and women in the county.
The free Wi-Fi in Nakuru is expected to cover a radius of 10Kms from the town center in the initial phase then other areas around the county will be targeted for inclusion as the project progresses. The project is set to be funded through donor agencies, partnerships and waivers of various licences by the county government.
Elsewhere, Business Insider has released names of 9 cities with the best Free Wi-Fi offers globally and conspicuously missing from the list is an African city. The list by Business Insider is topped by Taipei in Taiwan that offers Free Wi-Fi to travelers for one month followed by Florence in Italy that offers 72 hours free Wi-Fi also to travelers. Others in the list are Tel Aviv in Israel, Helsinki in Finland, Hong Kong, Macau in China, Paris in France, New York in USA, and Perth in Australia.
As the government of Kenya rolls out the free Wi-Fi it promised, it would be important that it learnt important lessons from one of the cities that have been listed as best in offering free Wi-Fi globally as it is not too big a dream to imagine Nakuru being in the list of the 9 cities with the best free Wi-Fi, if not globally, then in Africa. After all Nakuru was once named the cleanest town in East and Central Africa.
The most important criteria for best free Wi-Fi that the government must consider is speed. Second most important criteria is reliability. It will be pointless for the government to provide Free Wi-Fi in Kenya’s major towns yet downloading a simple email would take more than a minute and up-loading a photo taken on the go would take more than an hour. Minutes and hours in digital time equals decades and centuries respectively- thus downloads and uploads should compete with instantaneous events for the free Wi-Fi to count as important value addition to our lives. On the other hand, if the free Wi-Fi hotspots won’t be available by the second due to lost signal etc, then again the government should reconsider the free Wi-Fi projects across the country.
How long before the free Wi-Fi i arrives in Nakuru? No one has answered that.