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MPs pass motion on free Wi-Fi for every constituency

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MPs on Wednesday passed a motion compelling the national government to provide free, secure Wi-Fi in every constituency.

The motion tabled by nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi also states that the Wi-Fi must be risk free and of high quality.

The legislator in his submission said the internet is one of the most powerful tools in the world for communication, information and access to services.

Osotsi said universal access to ICT is a critical international obligation provided for under the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) among other international obligations.

The MP said, “Technological innovations associated with the transition to the next generation networks are already transforming the way universal access is being extended to rural and remote areas in both developed and developing countries and to a large extent, this transformation is being fueled by emerging networking technologies.”

He said global statistics indicate that 49 per cent of the population does not have access to internet connection and that the digital divide requires tangible and consistent collective action to close the gap,” read part of the motion.

“This House resolves that the government, through incentive-driven public-private partnerships, provides free, secure, risk-free and high quality Wi-Fi services in every constituency,” Speaker Justin Muturi said while posing the question for adoption.

The motion is passed at a time when Nairobi, Kiambu and Nakuru counties are still grappling with the promise to provide free Wi-Fi to its audiences.

Former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero had said all public secondary schools in Nairobi would have a free Wi-Fi connection in one of his ambitious plans.

Kidero said the county government had set aside Sh100 million in the budget for the 2017-18 financial year towards the project.

“We are going to bridge the electronic divide between private and public schools in the county and also make sure that computers are useful,” he said.

“This can only be achieved by providing internet connectivity to all public secondary schools in Nairobi.”

Kidero said the county government is working with two international firms – Bridge the Gap and Computers for Schools Kenya – to provide 2,000 computers.

“The partnership with Bridge the Gap will see each of the 85 schools get at least 20 computers when the project is rolled out in July.”

Read: Kidero in ambitious plan to install WiFi hot-spots at Nairobi public schools

In Kiambu county, former Governor William Kabogo, amid efforts to digitise service delivery, launched free Wi-Fi connectivity in Kiambu town, Thika, Juja and Kikuyu.

He said Kiambu schools and a designated cyber cafe would offer free internet services for the first time in an agreement between the county and Liquid Telecom.

See: Kiambu to offer free internet in schools, cyber cafe

In 2014, the High Court directed the Attorney General’s office to file its response in a case where the AG and the Nakuru government had been sued for information relating to a failed free Wi-Fi project.

Judge Abigail Mshila directed that the AG files his response within 21 days.

The case was filed by Nakuru Town East MP David Gikaria, the Rift Valley Law Society of Kenya and Counties Efficiency in Development, an NGO.

The petitioners wanted the court to compel the county government and the AG to provide them with copies of the contract between the county and the entity that was contracted to install the Wi-Fi around Nakuru town.

They claim the project failed just hours after the much-publicised launch in March. The petitioners told the court that the project flopped as there is no free or quick internet.

Read: Nakuru County sued over free Wifi flop



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