Demand for fibre internet infrastructure is rapidly growing today with customers expanding to new territories, particularly banks opening rural branches, with 80 per cent of the banks in Kenya currently on liquid telecom fibre network linking ATMs as well as providing secure inter-office connections from rural branches to head office.
In a bid to satisfy the growing demand, telecom has laid 4200 kilometres of fibre optic network connecting 39 out of 47 counties in Kenya at a cost of $200m a project intended to increase Internet access as government and private institutions expand their services to the counties.
The growing rural banking network has contributed to the uptake of banking services, which has grown from 13.5 per cent in 2006 to 29.2 per cent in 2013, according to the FinAccess National Survey.
Government ministries as well as parastatals setting up regional offices have also brought a sharp surge in communication needs, including access to core databases, approvals of transactions, email and information sharing within ministries and sub counties across many locations.
Liquid Telecom has connected 25 parastatals plus their branches across the country, including 25 centres for Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KALRO), 4 centres for the Kenya Water Institute, Kenya Industrial Property Institute, Kenya Ports Authority, as well as all the tea estates under the Kenya Tea Development Authority.
Telephone operators providing 3G services, many of which Liquid Telecom provides the bandwidth for, are also driving the network expansion to the counties. Internet offers unprecedented opportunities for economic growth in developing countries. By providing access to information, connecting people to businesses everywhere, and opening up new markets, the Internet can transform the very nature of an economy and support economic development.
Extending Internet access in developing economies can raise living standards and incomes by up to $600 per person a year, and could lift 160m people out of extreme poverty, according to a report from Deloitte.
For government, the cost savings through moving service delivery online drives further economic gains. In Kenya, the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) has so far reduced its administrative costs from 60 per cent to 32 per cent by automating its claims processing to enable online pre-approval, enabling access of real-time data, and tracking of payment processes. The connection of counties is expected to further lower these administration costs.
It is imperative to create an Internet infrastructure that will enable counties to access institutional intranet facilities, parastatals to provide services to the people, and business people to flourish. Internet is a key requirement for this to happen.