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Matiang’i on the spot in digital migration row

Information Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i was put to task to reveal the local shareholders of a company at the centre of the digital migration row when he appeared before a Senate team on Wednesday .

The senators demanded to know which Kenyans own shares in the Pan-African Network Group (Pang) in the wake of revelations that the company was not fully foreign-owned as the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology had earlier claimed.

Members of the Senate’s Legal and Human Rights Committee told Dr Matiang’i that the Constitution made it mandatory for him to make public information held by the State.

They pressed Dr Matiang’i, who was accompanied by Communication Authority of Kenya Director-General Francis Wangusi, to give the committee all the details regarding the ownership of the Chinese company that had been given a Broadcast Signal Distributor licence allowing it to air content from Kenyan broadcasters for free.

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

“Article 35 of the Constitution gives Kenyans the right to information held by the State. It is mandatory to tell us who the shareholders are. You have a constitutional duty to give Kenyans this information, to tell them when they (shareholders) were incorporated in the firm and the stakes they own,” said Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar.

Committee Chairman Amos Wako said questions had been raised about the ownership of the firm.

“We would like to know the directors of the Pang. It is important that this committee have the details,” said Mr Wako, when the two officials appeared before the senate team at KICC.

Last week, it was revealed that Excel Magic International Ltd, a firm with Kenyan ties, had a 6.7 shareholding in the company. However, the company is incorporated in a tax haven.

Dr Matiang’i was given one week to reveal the shareholders of the company that has been at the centre of the stalemate between leading broadcasting companies in the country and the Communication Authority of Kenya, which switched off their analogue broadcasting equipment earlier this month.

He promised to make available the documents in a week.