The Computer Society of Kenya

Since 1986

Audit flags Sh4.4bn Konza smart city job payment


Monday June 14, 2021

The Auditor-General has raised the red flag over direct payments of Sh4.4 billion from a Chinese lender to telecoms giant Huawei for the construction of the Konza Data Centre.

Nancy Gathungu says the lender could not produce documents to validate the payments to Huawei, raising concerns that taxpayers could lose billions of shillings through unsubstantiated payment demands.

The Konza project, conceived in 2017 by the ICT ministry and Huawei, entails the development of core infrastructure including a national cloud data centre, a smart ICT network, a public safe city and smart traffic solution, and a government cloud and enterprise service.

The Chinese tech giant Huawei was picked to develop the Konza Data Centre and Smart City.

“Annexes to the contract containing the terms and conditions of the contract including timelines, deliverables, and payment schedules in support of the payments were not provided,” Ms Gathungu said in the latest audit of the State Department for ICT tabled in Parliament last week.


Agency bets on tech to lock out cartels from blood banks


Monday June 07, 2021

Kenya requires between 500,000 to one million units of blood a year, yet collects less than a quarter of that volume.

Amid such an acute shortage, cartels engaged in illegal sale of blood have continued to make a kill.

The illegal blood business is blamed for shortage with Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe last year in March accusing cartels at the ministry of draining Kenyan blood banks.

This is after reports revealed that blood donated by Kenyans was being sold abroad, mostly in neighbouring Somalia by a cartel comprising officers from the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service (KNBTS).

And now KNBTS, which is mandated to ensure the provision of adequate safe blood, is in the process of rolling out a new system aimed at sealing loopholes exploited by cartels to siphon donated blood from Kenya’s blood banks.


Central bank digital currency disruption



The increased adoption pace of digital technologies is forcing countries to adapt Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs).

This has made many decision-makers to set up mechanisms for change in the past five months. A move that will completely disrupt the financial systems.

A special report by Fitch Rating insinuates that the rise of private digital payment platforms with strong network effect could “create oligopolies among payment-system providers.”

Private companies could end up controlling so much of individual personal data, a concern that has been raised within the academic circles.

Indeed, some governments are also not comfortable with the power of data analytic that these platforms are building around personal data.


Safaricom reveals ownership of Ethiopia venture


Tuesday May 25, 2021

Safaricom  will own a majority stake in a series of companies formed for entry into Ethiopia’s telecoms market, giving the firm effective ownership of 55.7 per cent in the new venture.

The Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed company has disclosed the exact ownership structure of the consortium that on Saturday won a licence to enter the new market at a cost of $850 million (Sh91.6 billion).

Japan’s conglomerate Sumitomo Corporation is the second-largest investor with a 27.2 per cent stake, followed by UK’s sovereign investment fund CDC Group (10.9 per cent) and South Africa’s Vodacom Group (6.2 per cent).


Communications Authority changes terms in fresh hunt for new boss


Tuesday May 18,2021

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has restarted the process of recruiting a director-general with new terms of qualifications after a court quashed the advertisement for the vacancy.

CA on Tuesday re-advertised for the position, making an about-turn on requirements that applicants seeking to replace former DG Francis Wangusi must possess a postgraduate degree and 15 years of experience, 10 of which must be at senior managerial level.  

This comes a month after the Employment and Labour Relations Court revoked the authority’s recruitment drive and ruled that the process was both procedurally improper and illegal.

Justice Maureen Onyango found that the advertisement for the vacancy did not meet the minimum statutory requirements in terms of the qualifications for the position and the process of advertising.


Kenya Power eyes telcos in 600km internet cables plan


Tuesday May 05, 2021

Kenya Power  plans to lay an additional 600.5 kilometres of fibre optic cable network to lease to telcos as the demand for internet rises in Covid-19 era.

The utility firm, which currently owns more than 4,000 kilometres of the cable on its high voltage power lines, is looking for a contractor for the extension programme that will take 36 months.

“KPLC fibre optic cable network is growing at a very fast rate to meet internal primary telecommunication needs as well as to serve external customers who lease fiber capacity,” says the company.

“KPLC intends to extend its fibre optic cable network to its commercial centers and substations using all-dielectric self-supporting fiber optic cable for improved data connectivity and a small portion with optical ground wire.”

The planned extension comes in the wake of a surge in demand for Internet services as companies continue to direct employees to work from home and people spent most of their time in the houses to lower risks of contracting coronavirus.


CA suspends, fines Mt Kenya TV for violating adult content rules



The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has suspended the licence of vernacular station Mt Kenya TVfor four weeks for airing inappropriate content last week.

The CA said that the television station had aired adult content during the watershed period in the programme “Mucii wa Ciana” that aired on the afternoon of April 19, which exposed children to harmful content, especially at a time they are at home on holiday.

The programme featured an animated movie titled “Free Jimmy”, which the communications regulator said contained sexually explicit content and scenes of drug abuse and violence which breached the Programming Code and ICT laws.

The channel, owned by Slopes Media House, was also fined Sh500,000 and ordered to take all its staff to the CA within seven days for training on the programming code.


Judge halts search for new CA boss


Wednesday April 15, 2021

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) will have to start afresh recruitment of a new director-general to replace Francis Wangusi after the Employment and Labour Relations Court quashed the advertisement for the vacancy.

This means Mercy Wanjau will continue to hold the position in an acting capacity.

Justice Maureen Onyango found that the advertisement for the vacancy did not meet the minimum statutory requirements in terms of the qualifications for the position and the process of advertising.

The judge said the authority published two advertisements for the vacancy, the first being on May 22, 2020, and the second on June 17, 2020.

The closure of the second advertisement was on June 23, 2020, with Justice Onyango saying this violated the hiring rules.

She said the second advertisement could not be deemed to be a continuation or extension of the first one. The judge said a person who only saw the re-advertisement and not the original one was entitled to the full 21 days before closure.


State pushes Airtel to give locals 30pc stake


Monday April 12, 2021

The State has introduced new ownership rules in the telecoms sector that will push Airtel Kenya to sell a 30 percent stake to Kenyans over the next three years in what is part of a move to encourage local ownership of ICT firms.

Joe Mucheru, the ICT Cabinet Secretary, unveiled a licensing policy on Friday that has given telecoms firms up to March 2024 to ensure local ownership of at least 30 percent in the companies.

He also increased the local ownership threshold from a minimum of 20 percent, a cap that has been in place since 2008.

A few firms, including Airtel Kenya, have been exempted from the shareholding rule, a window that let billionaire investor Naushad Merali to sell a significant portion of his shareholding in the firm worth billions of shillings without contravening the law.


Fraudsters stash cash in global cryptocurrencies


Thursday April 08, 2021

The modern cyber fraudster has become more lethal during the Covid-19 pandemic, drifting from saving hidden money in off-shore banks to stashing them in cryptocurrency networks running on blockchain systems that cannot be accessed by authorities.

The study, The Anatomy of the New Fraudster, published by tech company Banking Payments Context (BPC) shows apart from targeting corruptible employees, scammers are now targeting untrained personnel to share private data of top executives unknowingly and end up purloining billions of money, which is hidden in cryptocurrency form.

"Card fraud and particularly identity theft have gone rampant. Fraudsters also use cryptocurrencies to buy credit card data on the darkweb, data that has been stolen through phishing or hacking," reveals the research.

According to Nairobi-based author of Understanding the Blockchain Benjamin Arunda, the ever rising stature of data and digital currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum in Kenya is the key motivation for online thugs to convert stolen money into cryptos.


Airtel connects 5G in battle with Safaricom


Wednesday April 07, 2021

Airtel Kenya has upgraded some of its sites with fifth-generation (5G) mobile Internet services as the telecoms operator prepares to battle Safaricom for a larger share of the fast-growing data business.

Airtel said the deployment of 5G-ready networks would help it capitalise on the rising mobile Internet demand in the country, just days after Safaricom  became the inaugural operator to offer the superfast services in the region.

The Kenyan unit of India’s Bharti Airtel says it has over 600 sites in Nairobi, Mombasa and Malindi on 5G network.

“These 600 sites are now 5G-ready. We don’t have to make any further modifications to the network. We will just get the spectrum and decide when to switch on,” Airtel Kenya managing director Prasanta Das Sarma told the Business Daily in an interview.


Safaricom to launch 5G network Friday in Nairobi and western Kenya


Thursday March 25, 2021

Safaricom will Friday launch Kenya’s first fifth-generation (5G) mobile internet services targeting major urban centres, making it the inaugural operator to offer commercial and superfast services in the region.

The firm last year completed testing and trials for the upgraded network as the company seeks to capitalise on burgeoning mobile Internet use in the country.

The leading telco Thursday revealed the Friday launch of the 5G technology that will be supplied by Nokia Corporation and Huawei—which has been the subject of increased scrutiny in the Western world over the introduction of the high speed networks.

The 5G service is a central part of its attempts to further expand its data business to counter slower growth in voice calls revenue.

The service will be available in Nairobi and greater western Kenya including Kisumu, Kisii and Bungoma, which routinely witness increased data traffic.


Beware email, data privacy danger


Thursday March 18,2021

Any discussions on the impact of digital technologies cannot end without mentioning how e-mail, for example, has changed our communication landscape and our lives. The use of email has enabled us to conveniently talk to relatives, friends and colleagues no matter how far they live and enhanced productivity.

But as they say, nothing worth having comes easy. And this essential tool is not foolproof. Scammers have been able to hack it to swindle unsuspecting users; employers use it to monitor employees and spies too use it in their trade. Not all unauthorised intrusions are an infringement on your privacy. Nonetheless, this calls for us to protect our data privacy.

Studies by American Management Association (AMA) indicate that between 70 and 80 percent of major organisations globally monitor employees’ emails. And virtually all the court cases on infringement of privacy in monitoring workplace emails have been in favour of the organisations. These kinds of decisions are a wake-up call to all employees.


Split in government over takeover of Sh16 billion fibre optic from Telkom Kenya


Monday March 01, 2021

A split has emerged in Government over plans to end Telkom Kenya’s management of State-owned Sh16 billion fibre optic network that the telco operates without licence.

The ICT Ministry and a State agency, the ICT Authority (ICTA) — are locked in a dispute over how to end Telkom Kenya management of National Optic Fibre Backbone (Nofbi) -- which provides telecommunications connectivity in all the 47 counties.

Jerome Ochieng, the ICT Principal Secretary told Parliament that the Ministry is not aware of plans to take control of the State-owned fibre network from Telkom Kenya which has collected Sh1.7 billion from users over the years.


Konza lays 500km underground ICT cables


Thursday February 18, 2021

They laying of 500km of ICT cabling in Konza city has been done, stepping up efforts to open up the technopolis for private companies seeking to set up in the Greenfield city.

The infrastructure is meant to attract investment by providing ready-to-plug backbone ICT network.

Konza has also completed phase 2 — Tier III National Data Centre — with smart city facilities and services to support Konza Technopolis, e-government as well as the small and medium enterprises services.

“We are expecting Kenya to cement its lead in IT leadership and this is a flagship project that will be integral for job creation for the youth,” Vision 2030 CEO Kenneth Mwige said.


Cyber-attacks in Kenya up by half to hit 56m in three months

cybercrimeCyber attacks on Kenyan organisations rose by nearly 50 percent in the last three months of 2020 compared to a similar period the previous year, a new data shows.

This came at a time when organisations adopted remote working systems as well as ecommerce tools amid Covid-19 lockdown measures.

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) data shows that more than 56 million cyber threats were detected nationwide in comparison to 37.1 million in 2019.

“A majority of the threats were malware attacks at 46 million, followed by web application attacks at 7.8 million while 2.2 million Distributed Denial of Service (DDos) threats were detected during the same period,” the CA said in a statement.

The rise in cyber threats have seen businesses lose billions of shillings and sensitive information to hackers. This has forced firms, especially in the financial sector, to be vigilant.


JamboPay joins big leagues with new communications service


Tuesday February 02, 2021

Heading home from work late, and you’re not sure whether there is a packet of milk in the refrigerator? You may soon find it easy to communicate with your fridge, TV, water and electricity meters and other household gadgets, as the race to roll out internet of things (IoT) gathers pace in Kenya.   

JamboPay, which is better known for having launched Nairobi’s first mobile phone-based car parking payment service, has obtained a regulatory license to roll out mobile phone services in Kenya and also connect up to one million machines through the IoT technology.

JamboPay’s parent company, Web Tribe Limited, has been awarded a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) license by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), effectively allowing it to lease spectrum from mobile network operators and roll out communications services.

Pilot tests

The firm, which has created a niche for itself in the online payment services sector, says it is conducting pilot tests ahead of rolling out several commercial services in Nairobi later this year and subsequently to other parts of the country.

Its services will include smart communications networks that will enable Kenyans to monitor their water and electricity meters and pay for the bills as well as track their vehicles.


Taxman goes for e-books, movies, online classes in new digital tax


Monday, January 25, 2021

The next online class, e-book, music download, movie streaming or air ticket that you buy over the internet could cost you more, as KRA moves to implement the new tax on digital services.

The digital service tax (DST), which became effective on January 1 this year, is payable at 1.5 per cent of the gross transaction value and is due at the time of payment for the service to the service provider, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has stated.

The tax introduced in the Finance Act 2020 applies on a wide range of digital services including commercial mobile apps available on Google Play Store and Apple Store; podcasts and TV shows available on foreign registered platforms such as YouTube Premium, Google Play, Netflix, Spotify and YouTube Music.


Kenya tops Africa by a mile in internet penetration

internetpic2DAILY NATION By Augustine Sang

Friday Jaunary 22, 2021

Kenya recorded the highest internet penetration rate in Africa in the year 2020. This is according to a ranking by Internet World Stats (IWS), showing that 87.2 percent of the country’s population was connected to the internet. 

Figures from the Communication Authority (CA) indicate that in quarter one of 2020/2021 financial year (July to Sept 2020), the country recorded 43.45 million internet/data subscriptions, an increase of 4.8 percent from the previous quarter. 

The regulator attributes this growth to the internet connectivity demand necessitated by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, which forced many Kenyans to work and undertake studies from home. 


Online firms seek review of digital tax citing low user transition



Online shopping firms are lobbying for revision on the digital service tax, saying it will throttle the nascent e-commerce industry.

Firms including Sky Garden, Kilimall, Africa Sokoni, Jumia and Jambo shopping want the government to review the implemented tax and if not, give them a grace period before implementation.

The digital service tax), which came into effect at the start of this month, will be charged at a rate of 1.5 percent of the gross transaction value to both residents and non-residents firms and individuals who earn income from the online space.

In introducing the tax, the Treasury pointed to the steady increase in online consumer retail purchases on both local and international platforms.


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