Kenyans may soon start enjoying free internet following a recent proposal to the National Treasury by a lobby group that is seeking to have it budgeted for.
In the proposal, the Consumers Federation of Kenya (COFEK) wants the National Treasury, in its budget estimates to Parliament, to consider allocating more resources to provision of the internet in the country.
To achieve this plan, COFEK suggests that the government imposes Value Added Tax (VAT) on businesses using internet to carry out transactions.
Justifying its proposal, COFEK stated that by generating more internet resources and making its access free of charge will further increase and unlock the e-commerce industry in the country.
“Ideally, the internet should be made free so that it becomes a platform for enabling and unlocking the huge potential of multi-billion e-commerce. Government can then raise more resources with VAT on products, services, and products sold through the internet,” part of the proposal by COFEK read.
The proposal, however, can only be realised if the National Treasury – under Cabinet Secretary, Ukur Yatani – includes it in the budget estimates and approved by the National Assembly.
The government has been holding consultations with stakeholders in a bid to make internet more affordable and available in the country.
Kenya Power recently announced plans to venture into the internet supply business in a move aimed at expanding its revenue base after registering dismal performance over the last few years.
“In the medium to long-term, the company is exploring the lit fibre business to increase the penetration of internet connectivity, particularly in the rural areas,” Kenya Power’s report read in part.
“The company’s extensive fibre network presently offers dark fibre services to the country’s major ISPs to facilitate the provision of Internet services to the end buyer in the retail and enterprise segments across the country and neighbouring countries.”
Other than connecting homes, the government also announced plans to connect schools to free internet. The Ministry of ICT announced plans to connect over 8,000 schools by the end of 2022.
According to a recent report, there were 21.75 million internet users in Kenya in January 2021 while penetration of the same stood at 40 per cent.
The country is projected to experience a sharp growth in the number of internet users to 30 million by 2030.