Split in government over takeover of Sh16 billion fibre optic from Telkom Kenya


Workers lay fibre-optic cable in Nyeri town on August 18, 2020. FILE PHOTO | NMG

A split has emerged in Government over plans to end Telkom Kenya’s management of State-owned Sh16 billion fibre optic network that the telco operates without licence.

The ICT Ministry and a State agency, the ICT Authority (ICTA) — are locked in a dispute over how to end Telkom Kenya management of National Optic Fibre Backbone (Nofbi) -- which provides telecommunications connectivity in all the 47 counties.

Jerome Ochieng, the ICT Principal Secretary told Parliament that the Ministry is not aware of plans to take control of the State-owned fibre network from Telkom Kenya which has collected Sh1.7 billion from users over the years.

But ICTA is working on transferring Nofbi under its watch amid the parliamentary probe over the operations of the state owned fibre network.

Mr Ochieng told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that a deal between Telkom Kenya and ICTA on Nofbi will amount to insubordination on the part of the authority.

“I have no correspondence on this kind of arrangement. I need to go back and check. I am not in the picture,” he told the committee.

ICTA is seeking to run Nofbi amid the push to have another firm offered the contract to operate and manage the fibre network.

Telkom Kenya has been put on the spot for collecting up to Sh1.7 billion from customers using a State-owned fibre optic network without a licence.

The revelations reveal that Telkom Kenya had also failed to surrender to the government half of the profits raised from data service providers using the fibre optic network as stated in the lapsed contract.

Garissa Township MP Aden Duale termed Mr Ochieng responses as “pedestrian” and demanded to know how ICTA wrote to TKL in a bid to take over a serious government infrastructure without the PS and ministry’s knowledge.