Mobile Internet as the Key Driver to Internet Growth in Kenya: Factors Underpinning and Exploited Opportunities
Waema, Timothy M
Ndung'u, Margaret N
MetadataShow full item record
Statistics from the Communication Commission of Kenya (2013) show that mobile data/Internet subscriptions dominate the Internet market. It contributes 99% of the total Internet subscriptions, with 16.2 million Internet users countrywide as at the end of 2012. Kenya has thus witnessed a spectacular growth in mobile phone usage with mobile Internet proving to be the next big thing in the local technology world after mobile money. Coupled with this, mobile phones are being used across the country in other innovative ways. This article interrogates the driving forces leading to the wide usage of mobile phones for Internet access in Kenya. It examines the role played by the various factors in the sector, such as infrastructure roll out, costs of mobile handsets, mobile phone tariffs and cost of bundles, market forces and competition, policy and regulatory interventions among others that may have led to the wide adoption and use of mobile Internet. The paper is based on primary data collected in 2011/2012 by Research ICT Africa from 11 African countries, with a focus on Kenya. The Kenya survey was conducted in September 2011 with the sample consisting of 1,200 households and 500 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). The paper also uses previously collected data in 2007/2008 for trend analysis as well as secondary data from various sources, including economic surveys, operators’ annual reports, published reports by the stakeholders and statistical reports by the regulator. Using the Capability Approach as the theoretical lens, the paper seeks to establish the factors that are driving mobile Internet growth in Kenya. These factors inform the choices that people make in relation to use of mobile Internet leading to the rapid growth in usage experienced in Kenya. The paper analyses how the factors interact and influence mobile Internet and discusses the capabilities enabled. It ends with conclusions and recommendations for further research as well as for policy action.