The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has termed as timely the Government decision to classify telecommunication infrastructure facilities as critical amid rising vandalism cases.
Interior and Coordination of National Government Cabinet Secretary (CS) Fred Matiang’i last week gazetted several assets ranging from communication installations (including internet systems) as well as air navigation, petroleum storage and distribution systems as critical infrastructure facilities.
Such installations will now be accorded enhanced security in a bid to deter vandalism after recent incidents of vandalism on power lines, telecommunication masts as well as road and railway facilities.
Recently, a breakdown on the Kiambere-Embakasi high voltage transmission line caused a blackout that affected customers across major cities in the country such as Nairobi.
Investigations showed that the basement of the angle towers of Kenya Power’s high voltage power lines in Embakasi had been vandalised and the cross beams removed and unbolted, leading to the collapse that caused a major outage.
“It is worth noting that in the telecommunications sector, the infrastructure that has been declared critical spans across, data/voice communication, Internet connectivity, domain and Internet Protocol (IP) management, as well as data and information management,” CA Director General Ezra Chiloba said in a statement.
“This timely and important development will now see greater efforts devoted towards the protection, preservation and management of such infrastructure.”
In a span of four years, the authority said that about 25 masts have been destroyed mostly in Northern Kenya, costing over Sh200 million in repair and restoration of services.
Out of the 25 destroyed masts, 12 were in Mandera County while others were in Garissa and Wajir counties.
Consequently, it says operators have incurred millions of shillings in insurance costs for the sites since they are considered riskier.
“Vandalism of ICT infrastructure not only denies consumers much-needed services but also leads to losses arising from the disruption of services in other sectors that rely on ICTs, as well as essential government services,” Mr Chiloba added.
The designation of critical infrastructure gives investors in the sector the confidence to continually improve their infrastructure and service delivery, knowing that their systems and equipment are safe.
“As we laud this important step, we are aware that more needs to be done, and as such, the Authority will work with all stakeholders to progress the agenda on the protection of critical infrastructure to the next level.”
An increase in cases of vandalism forced President Uhuru Kenyatta last month to ban exports and dealings in scrap metal, hitting hard traders currently operating in the sector.
“As of today, we will no longer allow, and we have put a moratorium on the export or the buying or selling of any scrap material until we have put in place proper guidelines that will ensure that material is not coming from the hard-won investments that the Kenyan people have made,” said Mr Kenyatta last month.