For many months, it hasn’t been clear who was digging up the ground between Mombasa and Kilifi. Majority of the people thought it was one of the mobile operators. There was palpable excitement when it emerged that a fibre optic cable connecting Mombasa to Kilifi was being laid by Liquid Telkom. In the last one week, Kilifi residents have witnessed the laying of the cable connecting various parts of the town in a 10km Metro network.
The prospect of faster internet in the town excites many who have suffered with slow and somewhat unreliable internet.
Kilifi town is only about 50km from Mombasa. However, internet connectivity is the county’s biggest challenge despite its closeness the Mombasa where all the submarine cables landed. Residents have to rely on the mobile operators whose connection falls to 2G in most places due to the expansiveness of the county.
The cable is part of an Information Communication and Technology (ICT) plan by the Kilifi County Government to digitize services in sub counties. With this cable, connectivity will be enhanced and services digitized, improving the speed and quality of the county’s delivery. The Governor, Amason Kingi hopes that the cable will ease communication with administrators in sub counties by use of video conferencing.
“ICT was rated one of the key centre stages for economic development in the county’s Integrated Development Plan,” said Govenor Kingi.
Liquid Telecom’s Paul Stratham said,
“The laying of the fibre optic cable under the 10km Kilifi Town Metro program will provide opportunity for the private sector to be connected and improve their service deliveries to their clients.”
This cable will connect 11 ministries in Kilifi via the Metro network, two other ministries connected via microwave and four remote sites connected on very small aperture terminal (VSAT).
Betty Bundotich, chairperson of the Kilifi Residents Association, welcomed the move.
“Internet connectivity is one of the biggest challenges to doing business in Kilifi. Any improvement in this will go a long way for business in Kilifi.”
Kilifi is a tourism hub and having internet connectivity will enhance this sector as more content will find its way online with the reliable connection in place. It should spur content generation around places like Watamu, Malindi and Kilifi showcasing the attractions. Photos and video content needs reliable, fast and affordable internet.
Biko Wesa, a Kilifi based photographer is sometimes forced to move to Mombasa for a few days to access good internet.
“Whenever I’m doing a heavy project that needs lots of uploads, I go to Mombasa for a few days because we don’t have good internet speeds in Kilifi. Uploading video is next to impossible here.”
In Kenya, Internet connectivity contributes to 2.9 per cent of GDP. It is expected that the fibre network will spur job creation in the county as well. Already, Liquid Telkom projects that 30 jobs will be created during the installation and management of the network. In addition, major businesses can now setup up operations in Kilifi and maybe a tech hub of its own.
The fibre connectivity will also benefit institutions such as Mount Kenya University, Kenya Medical Training College (KEMRI) and Pwani University who can will now have the infrastructure to integrate e-learning programmes.