Telcos want money for ICT fund audited

Monday March 23 2015

Telecommunications Service Providers

Telecommunications Service Providers Association of Kenya Chief Executive Officer Fiona Asonga, and chairman Kris Senanu at a past media briefing. Telecom firms will need to dig deeper into their pockets to fund a Sh100 billion programme aimed at providing ICT services in marginalised areas. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Telecommunication firms want the industry regulator to set up an audit for the Universal Service Fund and update them on its status.

Through their umbrella Telecommunications Service Providers of Kenya (Tespok), the companies said they contributed Sh3.4 billion towards the fund, an excess of the Communications Authority of Kenya target of Sh2.5 billion.

The money has, however, not been put to use and some of the contentious issues they had raised with CA are yet to be addressed.

“We have not yet been updated on the issue of having private auditors for this fund including the status of a new access gap study,” Tespok Chief Executive Officer Fiona Asonga said in a statement to the Nation yesterday.

“We urge the CA to adequately address the pending issues as were earlier raised, before they start administering this fund.”

CATCH UP MATTERS ICT

The fund is meant to help marginalised areas catch up in matters ICT. Telcos, USF board and CA held several meetings last year and agreed that a study would be conducted to ascertain how and where to first apply the funds.

Operators have also demanded to be part of the fund’s management and get a constant report on the money’s usage. They argued that the last access gap study is several years old and will be misleading in facilitating ICT access to underserved areas.

Safaricom, Airtel, Nation Media Group and Posta, among other operators remitted 0.5 per cent of their gross revenue to the fund.

CA had come up with a framework to help in using the money. However, industry stakeholders rejected it, saying it was based on a 2011 study whose findings were outdated.

“We have established a governance and operational framework, which we will share soon. It focuses on key aspects and principles that guide the authority in its mandate over USF and its relationship with the Universal Service Advisory Council members,” said CA in a statement.