End of wrangles as government names new Communications Authority board

The government has gazetted a new board to serve at the Communications Authority of Kenya, ending prolonged wrangles over the positions posed by ousted members. 

Levi Obonyo Owino, who was part of the expelled directors, will be in the new seven-member CA board that also includes Paul Kukubo, Mugambi Nandi, Kentice L Tikolo, Davis Cheruiyot Kitur, Christopher Guyo Huka and Patricia W Kimama.

The ICT Secretary Joe Mucheru said in a gazette notice that the board will serve “for a period of 3 years with effect from April 29, 2016.”

The appointment of the new board follows a court ruling by Justice Abuodha Jorum Nelson preventing the disbanded board from taking over office, late last month.

At the Employment and Labour Relations Court in Nairobi, Justice Abuodha set aside orders made by Justice Monica Mbaru on April 21. The orders had charged CA and the appointing ministry of contempt and stated that Spring Valley Police be summoned to ensure the defunct board was back in office. 

READ: Court declines reinstatement bid by fired authority's board

“It’s now all systems go, we immediately continue with work at the CA, there is nothing to wait for,” said the CA board chairman Ben Ngene Gituku in an interview.

Mr Gituku added that the new board will go through a one-week induction process where they will be trained on the ethics of leadership at CA.

Work awaiting the new board includes the approvals of distribution of fourth generation (4G) frequencies equitably to telecom operators, the Universal Service for implementation to take off.

“The Universal Service Advisory Council (USAC) which manages the funds is answerable to the board and cannot effect decisions without approval,” said Mr Gituku adding that: “There are several other licenses from new broadcasters that are awaiting approval by the board.”

Since last year, wrangles at the CA board has barred it from performing its tasks effectively as the directors and top management were accused of misusing funds and bribery allegations relating to awarding of Airtel’s licence.

READ: Treasury backs CA board quest to have Airtel pay Sh2bn licence fee

ALSO READ: Wangusi says CA directors wanted bribes from Airtel

Its toughest obstacle however has been the numerous court battles that began in October 2014, when the Secretary General of the ICT Association of Kenya, Kamotho Njenga, filed an application in court challenging the legality of the board’s constitution and the recruitment panel.

Mr Njenga sued the Authority, then ICT Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, and the seven new board members; Wilbert Kipsang Choge, Kennedy Monchere, Grace Mwendwa, Levi Obonyo, Helen Kinoti, Beatrice Opee and Peter Munywoki.

Justice George Odunga on May 29 last year, quashed the gazette notice, stating that the board was indeed formulated outside the statutory timelines. The disbanded CA board members immediately began endless court procedures to retain their positions.