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ATU wants telecom laws harmonised By JEFF OTIENO

Information technology policies in East Africa should be harmonised to improve telecommunication services.
Mr Jan Mutai, the Africa Telecommunications Union secretary general, said harmonisation of laws and policies would attract private investors, who had shied away from information technology in Africa.

Mr Mutai spoke at a seminar on electronic governance at Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi, yesterday.
Mr Mutai, a former managing director of the defunct Kenya Posts and Telecommunications Corporation, said the sector would not develop fast if the market remained fragmented.

"African countries should strive to establish a mechanism for co-operation in the creation of policies and laws," he said.
Mr Mutai said investors were looking for stable markets, which were lacking in many African countries.

"Out of the 48 less developed countries in the world, 33 are in Africa. That is why information technology is still poor in the continent," he said.

Cabinet Minister Nicholas Biwott, in a speech read for him by Assistant Minister Mohammed Abdi, said information technology was crucial in a liberalised economy.

Among the challenges Kenya faces in its effort to improve telecommunications, according to Mr Biwott, include the integration of the public and private sector, creating awareness of the latest information technology and equipment, and the enactment of laws to govern the Internet.

Others include personnel training on the latest equipment and the development of a modern telecommunication network.
The seminar, which brought together experts from East African countries, was sponsored by the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation.

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