The ICT Authority (ICTA) is unable to take over the running of a Sh16 billion fibre network run by Telkom Kenya due to lack of a maintenance budget, it has emerged.

According to ICTA CEO Katherine Getao, the Treasury is yet to allocate funds for the National Optic Fibre Backbone (Nofbi) Phase 1, which is run by Telkom without a licence.

“We are currently collecting levies from telcos that use Nofbi Phase 2 but we have not been able to obtain management contract for Phase 1 which is being operated by Telkom Kenya. We need money to enable us to take over and operate Nofbi 1 from Telkom,” Ms Getao told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

In 2010, Telkom was contracted by the Ministry of ICT (MoICT) to offer Operational and Management services (O&M) for the NOFBI cable, a project that aimed to provide connectivity across all the 47 counties of Kenya. The O&M cost was to be charged at Sh 20.3 Million, monthly.

Despite the contract expiring in 2016 and having not been renewed, Telkom still runs the infrastructure without proper legal confinement.

“At the lapse of the contract in May 2016, Telkom pursued renewal of the contract by the MoICT. With no guidance forthcoming from the Ministry on the matter, and despite numerous but fruitless efforts to obtain a renewal, Telkom continued to operate and manage the Cable, to ensure continuity of service provision to the infrastructure’s customers, fully cognisant of the Ministries, State Departments, and Agencies, offering critical  National and Economic Security services to the country, through NOFBI. Moreover, the 4,300-kilometre NOFBI Cable is further complemented by Telkom’s own infrastructure to the tune of 3,496.9 kilometres of linear distance.” Telkom Stated in a statement.

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Nofbi facilitates telecommunications connectivity in all 47 counties, but the government does not pay for the use of the infrastructure.

Currently, Telkom Kenya has no permit to collect revenue from users of the Nofbi as required by law, which renders the infrastructure non-profitable.

Telkom is 60pc owned by Helios Investment Partners, with the remaining stake held by Kenyans through the Government of Kenya.

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