Kenya Power’s plan for an ICT subsidiary now gathers steam

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By STAR CORRESPONDENT | Mar. 23, 2016, 6:00 am

Kenya Power has appointed a general manager for its new subsidiary, which will lease out fibre infrastructure to telecom companies to offer high-speed broadband.

This brings the utility company closer to launching the subsidiary called Kenya Power International.

Kenya Power managing director Ben Chumo said Jeremiah Kiplagat, the director in charge of the Institute of Energy Studies and Research, will head Kenya Power International. Kiplagat has a PhD in Electronics.

The ambitious plan, if successful, will diversify Kenya Power’s revenue streams.

The subsidiary will also run an energy training institute and consultancy.

Chumo said by coming up with an independent, profit-focused organisation, the utility firm will be able to optimise its assets and generate revenues in non-core areas and support government agenda of facilitating provision of reliable, high quality and affordable services to millions of people.

“This is because it will provide fibre to homes, business premises and institutions. This will fast track Kenya’s transition to a knowledge economy through the provision of services such as low-cost telephone services, e-learning, telecommuting and collaborative working and tele-medicine,” he said.

For a while, Kenya Power has been leasing backbone fiber to Safaricom, Jamii Telecom, Airtel, Wananchi and Liquid Telecom. The company has over 6,000 kilometres of fiber.

However, the firm has not been optimising this service because it has only been doing it from sub-stations.

“This meant that the telecom companies would have to dig around from the sub-stations to where end-users are based. This is expensive and unreliable due to the destruction from the expansion in infrastructure development such as roads and buildings,” Kiplagat said.

He said Kenya Power wants to ease this burden, not just for telecom companies but also for millions of Kenyans, by providing last mile access to homes, institutions and businesses.

“Instead of these companies digging underground for connections, Kenya Power is offering overhead infrastructure. This is not only reliable but also affordable because a kilometre string will cost about 30–40 per cent of the underground cost,” Kiplagat said in an interview.

Chumo further said telecommunication companies would save more than 90 per cent in setting up their systems, since it would cost them less than Sh1,000 per kilometre to use the Kenya Power fiber as opposed to over Sh6,000 per kilometre to set up their own.

“I have no doubt that in future this will be the biggest source of revenue for Kenya Power, overtaking even power sales,” he said.

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