Kenya Government not keen on regulating Over-the-top services like WhatsApp


In January, the the biggest telcos in South Africa MTN and Vodacom fronted an arguement to the government that over the top services such as WhatsApp. Telegram, Skype and Viber should be regulated as they were eating into the revenue streams of the telcos. The proposal came from the realization that these services utilized infrastructure put in place by mobile companies but failed to pay for the use of the infrastructure.

In Nigeria, the regulator has been keen on spurring the debate. The Nigeria Communications Commission published a report titled An overview of provision of over-the-top services, that analyzed the current state as well as implications of these services in Nigeria. In Kenya, the second largest Telco Airtel Kenya in 2015 made the same suggestions. Through  Airtel Africa CEO Christian De Faria , Airtel Kenya argued that over-the-top content providers such as Facebook, Telegram, Google and Whatsapp should be regulated and forced to pay a fee for utilization of infrastructure put in place by mobile companies. The argument stemmed from the realization that OTT services were increasingly biting into the revenues of Telcos.

Speaking at the #ConnectedKE summit in Diani, ICT CS Joe Mucheru has stated that the government is not interested in regulating over-the-top services. The CS says Kenya lacks the capacity to do so owing to lack of regulation. The ICT Ministry is currently looking for input to the National ICT Policy 2016, which will provide framework for OTT services, cyber security among others.   In addition, Kenya sees the limitless possibilities presented by Over-the-top services and with the government stating it is keen on receiving  suggestions from stakeholders on what best approach to adopt as far as OTT services go. The announcement follows a similar move by Zimbabwe where the government threw out suggestions by telcos to regulate OTT services.