01 August, 2014

Able Wireless: Why Government(Communications Authority)Should Enable Rather Than Disable Local Entrepreneurship !

Its hardly two months since the Government re branded the statutory regulatory body  Communications Commission of Kenya to the Communications Authority of Kenya. The move was hailed as "a new dawn" for in the ICT sector in Kenya. At the Launch His Excellency the President stated and i quote  “In establishing an independent regulator, we gather to mark a new beginning for the Information and Communications Technology sector and indeed for the whole Nation”As with any other statutory body i am a bit apprehensive and pessimistic as to whether Kenyans and foreign investors are experiencing a new dawn with regards to service delivery.Case in point :The Able Wireless Company.

A lot of verbal pep talk has been made about vision 2030, empowering the youth, making it ideal for local investors to get an enabling environment with little legal impediments ...etc.But time and again you read of local start ups by vibrant young men being hounded and frustrated left right center in Government  offices trying to get regulatory approvals and that is repeated time and again and you wonder is it all talk and little or no action with our systems?Do we ever take audit of what our leaders say and what happens in  practice shortly thereafter?

 Speaking of which note the tone of frustration and economic sabotage that has faced Able Wireless( a company founded by a young Kenyan entrepreneur) in their quest to roll out their services due to regulatory impediments ...and i quote from their blog
But in Kenya, despite the push to help enable youth driven businesses, The Regulatory atmosphere has failed to adapt. Come August 2nd 2014, we will have spent a year seeking Regulatory Approval to start operating in Kenya. This Regulatory overhead means that every month, we have to meet financial commitments to our suppliers per contractual agreements without having earned a single shilling. August 1st marks the 2nd time The Regulator will have delayed our launch owing to their own internal processes. Despite us being gazetted on March 21st 2014, we only know that the process is still ongoing, and approval is due soon, but this is proving to be a protracted endeavor. Two months ago, it seemed impossible that we would be forced to wait longer than August. We were wrong.

Able Wireless TopBox
Able Wireless is a Company that seeks to revolutionize content delivery and connectivity in the local market by streaming Video On Demand (VOD) content and other services at an all time low fee of Kshs 500 per month(See the video interview  explaining the service)The founder is a pioneer blogger and techie  Kahenya Kamunyu a brilliant chap and a friend. Therefore when i read his blog post on 31 July, 2014 detailing the  bottlenecks he is facing as he tries to realize his venture and create value for Kenyans. I had to throw in my support and highlight that its time we changed our modus operandi if we expect to improve the collective livelihoods of fellow Kenyans.

Its imperative to note that often it may not be the policy of a Government body to stifle investment but individually Government staff have a responsibility to be thrifty and hardworking in their duties and service delivery.Corruption ,bureaucracy ,tribalism and other malignant  practices are a shot at ones own foot;self defeatist at best.Once an investor meets the required statutory requirements thresh-hold , the Licenses  should be issued promptly.To keep people visiting your offices as if that is their daily occupation is ethically, economically and morally unsound.

I hope someone from the "newly" re branded Communications Authority of Kenya picks up on this issue and grant s Able Wireless the opportunity to start providing services  to Kenya and enable us to have a cheaper local alternative to the foreign based content providers that  have dominated the entertainment industry in Kenya for a considerable period.

To Kahenya Kamunyu....don't let that stop you soldier on, sky is the limit!


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