U.S. Trade and Development Agency
1000 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 1600 * Arlington, Virginia 22209
Telephone (703) 875-4357 * Fax (703) 875-4009
USTDA PROMOTES THE DEVELOPMENT OF
KEY COMMUNICATIONS SECTORS IN KENYA
NAIROBI – (June 26, 2006) The expansion of communications infrastructure in Kenya in support of the country’s economic development is the goal of two separate grants awarded last week by the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA). The grants, totaling $374,082, seek to increase Internet access in response to growing service demand and expand broadcasting coverage to reach less-populated regions.
The grants were conferred during separate signing ceremonies at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi. USTDA Regional Director for Sub-Saharan Africa Ned Cabot signed the agreements on behalf of the U.S. government.
The first grant, in the amount of $160,000, was awarded to Wananchi Online Limited, Kenya’s largest Internet Service Provider (ISP) on June 22, 2006. Wananchi Chairman James Gachui signed the grant agreement on behalf of the company. The grant supports the Kenyan government’s efforts to liberalize and improve the Internet sector. As a result of ongoing reforms, Kenya has become the fastest growing Internet market in Sub-Saharan Africa with 1.5 million users, up from 500,000 just one year ago. Growth is expected to continue at a rate of more than 30 percent per year.
To meet the growing demand for ISPs in Kenya, Wananchi plans to provide a new pallet of value-added voice and data services based on the Microsoft Hosted Exchange (HE) Solution platform. Operating as a business solution provider with the Microsoft HE solution will allow Wananchi to offer a unique business solution not currently available in Kenya. The USTDA grant will be used to provide Wananchi with technical assistance in transforming itself from an infrastructure provider to a customer service provider.
Under a second USTDA grant awarded on June 23, 2006, Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), the Kenyan pubic broadcasting company, will receive technical assistance in developing a business plan to expand its signal to reach all geographical regions of Kenya and to increase its programming in local languages. KBC Acting Managing Director Hezekiah Oira signed the $214,082 grant agreement on behalf of the grant recipient.
At present, KBC’s television signal reaches approximately 35 percent of Kenya’s population, while 70 percent is reached by its radio signal. Although competition from private broadcasters is keen in well-populated areas, commercial broadcasters have shown little interest in investing in less-populated areas. The Kenyan government is committed to supporting KBC by expanding its signal to reach the entire population and increasing its programming in local languages. The technical assistance funded by the USTDA grant will assist KBC in developing a business plan to achieve these goals.
The opportunities to provide technical assistance to Wanachi and KBC will be competed separately on the Federal Business Opportunities website at www.fedbizopps.gov. Interested U.S. firms should submit proposals according to the instructions contained in each Federal Business Opportunities announcement. Wanachi and KBC will select the U.S. contractors that will provide the USTDA-funded assistance associated with each of their respective grants.
The U.S. Trade and Development Agency advances economic development and U.S. commercial interests in developing and middle-income countries. The agency funds various forms of technical assistance, feasibility studies, training, orientation visits and business workshops that support the development of a modern infrastructure and a fair and open trading environment. USTDA’s strategic use of foreign assistance funds to support sound investment policy and decision-making in host countries creates an enabling environment for trade, investment and sustainable economic development. In carrying out its mission, USTDA gives emphasis to economic sectors that may benefit from U.S. exports of goods and services.