This report considers
the case of broadband in Kenya and the manner in which the country has tackled its
capacity challenges. Kenya has a natural geographic advantage, being strategically
positioned on the East Coast of Africa. Its government-led “build it and they will
come” approach to broadband development has leveraged that advantage, and has played
a major role in dramatically increasing fibre optic backbone capacity. Many of Kenya’s
milestones have been realized in less than five years – three cables had landed
by the end of 2010 changing the face of the broadband market. The country has gone
from relying on satellite for international capacity, to having access to almost
four terabits over fibre from the three cables combined.
Although the landing
of the cables is merely a first step, it has already resulted in an 80 percent decrease
in wholesale bandwidth costs. Lower prices and greater availability are expected
to increase access to the Internet as well as to promote the continued spread of
sophisticated mobile applications and services and consequently improve opportunities
for the creation of and access to information and knowledge. Affordable broadband
is expected to increase Kenya’s competitiveness, particularly in the Business Process
Outsourcing (BPO) sector, and to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation.
What the Kenyan case demonstrates is that the promotion
of broadband capacity is multifaceted and takes place on a number of different levels.
This report analyses the approach that has been taken to addressing network capacity
challenges (supply side), as well as human capacity considerations affecting usage
and uptake (demand side) by considering:
the wholesale market for broadband connectivity
(domestic and international backbone connectivity);
the retail market for broadband access (i.e.
“last mile connectivity”); and
the development of services, applications and
With an estimated fixed and mobile broadband penetration
rate of 2 subscriptions per 100 people in 2010, Kenya still has significant progress
to make with respect to broadband uptake. Stimulating demand and usage by Kenyan
citizens and the public and private sector remains a challenge. Kenya has, largely
through the government, taken an innovative and pro-active approach to putting the
user at the centre and addressing the other elements of the broadband ecosystem,
such as education, literacy, applications and content. This has been done through
good regulation, the promotion of polices relating to ICT in education, the subsidization
of relevant content and application projects, and facilitating creative Public Private
This report finds
that much of Kenya’s success is due to four important factors:
- A clear national vision articulated in Vision 2030;
- Strong leadership and direction;
- A credible regulatory, policy and institutional framework; and
- Leveraging the strength of the public and private sectors through PPPs.
discussed in the report possess elements of these traits across all aspects of the
The Kenyan experience
is inspiring, yet it has not been perfect. There have been a few hiccups in terms
of the pace of implementation, and overlaps in the policy and institutional framework.
These are discussed in this report to provide a proper context for the Kenyan broadband
story and to enable countries to learn from Kenya’s experiences.