The Little Known Universal Service Fund that is Kenya’s Future

In 2009, the Universal Service Fund (USF) was created to help telecommunications industry stakeholders partner with the government to support widespread access to ICT services, promote capacity building and innovation in ICT services in the country.

The USF is administered and managed by the Communications Authority of Kenya and totally relies on contributions from committed industry players such as Safaricom to promote communications infrastructure and services rollout in rural, remote and underserved areas.

The ICT players, excluding those in postal services, are required to remit 0.5 percent of their annual revenue to the Fund and so far Safaricom and Telcom have been active participants.

Over the last 10 years, Safaricom has invested over billions annually in telecommunication infrastructure and continuous innovations at a faster pace than all its competitors combined.

It boasts over 4,600 network base stations, providing 95 percent population coverage with 3G and 4G network that is well above the UFS's recommendations of 5 Mbps downlink and 1 Mbps uplink internet connection.

The kitty also supports the development of capacity building in ICTs and technological innovation as well as the expansion of communication services to schools, health facilities and other organizations serving public needs.

Communication Authority undertakes impact evaluation studies to assess the performance of USF projects, and whether the USF programs are meeting their objectives.

In line with the fund's objectives, Safaricom has achieved 90 percent of its connectivity objectives again leading from the front

In spite of the onerous logistical challenges involved, the telco has so far commissioned 30 of the 48 sites countrywide.