Entrepreneurs missioned to build digital centres
Posted Wednesday, July 11 2012 at 19:32
Efforts to bridge the digital gap between the urban and rural areas got a boost yesterday after the government awarded Sh27.9 million to 26 entrepreneurs as a start-up capital for digital centres.
The entrepreneurs were among 10,000 that applied for the government’s revolving fund. Each will get Sh1 million loan.
The loans would be disbursed through Family Bank payable in three years attracting an interest of 10.5 per cent per annum.
The entrepreneurs are expected to provide a suit of services such as e-mails, government services such as applying for PIN and online tax returns at a fee.
Information permanent secretary Bitange Ndemo said yesterday the government was keen on empowering entrepreneurs to provide a missing link in provision of online services. “Electronic voting and access to government services through the web is only possible if digital villages are near the people,” Dr Ndemo said.
“That’s why we are serious about improving Internet connectivity, building local digital content and creating awareness about ICT products and services in rural Kenya.”
Statistics from Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) show there are 6.4 million Internet subscribers with mobile Internet accounting for 98.8 per cent.
This means most users can only access content that don’t require heavy bandwidth, limiting their ability to fully use available broadband. The number of broadband subscribers stands at 651,738.
The revolving fund run by the Kenya ICT Board Digital Villages Project (DVP), started disbursing funds in 2011. Sh47.9 million was approved for disbursement in April that year.
So far, Sh34,389,740 has been disbursed through Family Bank which is the administering institution for the fund. The first round saw 37 entrepreneurs benefit from the awards.
The project is linked to Vision 2030 which recognises that ICT is a key element in social development.
The digital village project is part of the public private partnership for taking ICTs to rural folk.
The board is collaborating with Cisco and Intel and is now in talks with Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) to promote technology through advocacy in rural areas.