SafariCom, the leading Mobile Operator in Kenya, pulled out of a Government-led Joint Venture to set up national 4G network. The Government was leading in this effort to make sure that a widely accessible 4G (LTE) network would be rolled out across the East African nation.
In a report by TelecomPaper, The Government’s Treasury in 2012 approved the ownership structure and estimated the operators needed to invest KES 10 billion ( to start construction. Safaricom has had a change of heart, in a strategic attempt to make sure it owns and controls its network resources, and is demanding its own spectrum for LTE. This is after completing the laying of a fibre backhaul in Nairobi. CEO Bob Collymore said the roll-out of the 4G network through a consortium is not its priority at the moment and asked the government to come up with a way to issue the frequencies to operators who are ready to go.
That is good news to Kenyan consumers who will soon be able to enjoy 4G/LTE connectivity, in a growing eco-system of capable devices, and cheaper and more affordable connectivity, we can safely say if SafariCom is ready to go – Let them Go! Local media, are among those chanting this cause from rooftops in Nairobi, citing slow decision-making processes by virtue of the Government’s involvement. Don’t get us wrong, we do not advocate for total absence of Government controls, neither massive regulation. However, we strongly recommend to Governments in the region to use proven approaches such Universal Access Funds, to fund such ventures. Let the private sector fully exercise their strategic choices and compete in a fair market, where the end-result would be an efficient market that serves both the Operators and Consumers, with some oversight from a ‘Regulatory Body.’
So when you visit the region or are in transit to another destination, give them a try and let us know your experience. Hopefully that will be soon before long.