Economy

Fibre optic network for counties to be finalised by March

optic

Workers lay fibre optic cables in Mombasa in July. Information PS Bitange Ndemo has said that all counties will have fibre optic connection before polls. Photo/File

Summary

  • Dr Ndemo said that several projects cutting across several ministries such as health, education, and agriculture were ongoing with co-ordination from the Information ministry.
  • The communication services would be set up through the Treasury, which is rolling out the Integrated Information Management System (IFMIS) to counties to link their treasuries with the national one.
  • The ministry is also linking fibre optic cables to all district headquarters, learning institutions including primary schools, and health centres.

Laying of fibre optic cables in the 47 counties and posting of Ministry of Information and Communication staff will be completed before the March election, permanent secretary Bitange Ndemo has said.

County governments will become operational after the March 4, General Election.

Dr Ndemo said that several projects cutting across several ministries such as health, education, and agriculture were ongoing with co-ordination from the Information ministry.

“Every county will have fibre optic cables or network before the start of county governments. We are targeting December as the deadline to distribute broadband,” Dr Ndemo told the Public Accounts Committee.

He said that the communication services would be set up through the Treasury, which is rolling out the Integrated Information Management System (IFMIS) to counties to link their treasuries with the national one.

The ministry is also linking fibre optic cables to all district headquarters, learning institutions including primary schools, and health centres.

On Monday, President Kibaki launched a project on transfer of knowledge from top performing schools like Alliance and Starehe Boys Centre to others.

ALSO READ: Top-performing schools to share lessons via Internet

Dr Ndemo said that the Information ministry was working towards setting up rural digital centres to enable the public to access information technology.

Asked by Dr Boni Khalwale, the PAC chairman, to comment on the freedom of information as outlined in Article 35 of the constitution, Dr Ndemo said that 99 per cent of government data, even with the official secret Act, is in the public domain.

“Only one per cent is kept secret for security reasons and this is what people focus on,” he said, adding that some of the information is kept secret for as long as 30 years like is the case in the United States and United Kingdom.

Dr Ndemo supported the National Intelligence Service Bill 2012 which empowers spies to tap into private communication.

The PS said that state security agencies should have unlimited access to what individuals do in order to advise on appropriate interventions in the interest of state security.

“If you feel people will listen to your phone or Internet conversations, then do not use it. Use other means such as the CDMA which is not easy to listen to or old methods of communication. Otherwise if you are not intending to commit crime, why bother?’’ Dr Ndemo said.

He said that countries such as the United States check every email and that is why they are able to give terror threats warnings to its citizens and friendly governments in time.

“This is not to infringe on people’s rights as some say. The rights are limited as stipulated in the Constitution.’’

Dr Ndemo said that it would be detrimental on the part of military personnel fighting the Al-Shabaab militia in Somalia if the military strategy was to be released to the public.

“Certain information, such as that touching on trade where the nation has a strategic interest, should not be released otherwise you will end up compromising the State itself,” he said.

Dr Ndemo said that information on the military and the National Security Intelligence Service should not be given to the public.

Dr Khalwale said he would lobby for the passage of the security Bills so long as they go towards protecting the lives of citizens from criminals and terrorists.

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