Kenya is growing to become a hub and a leader in digital technology and mobile innovation in Africa. The exponential growth in the number of mobile phone users, the strides in mobile banking innovation and the increase in mobile penetration is phenomenal.
Perhaps the most widely known aspect of Kenya’s adoption and leadership in mobile banking innovation is in the M-pesa service which is well documented. There is also M-Shwari – a new mobile paperless banking service which has hit the Kenyan market and has rapidly received wide acceptance. Over KShs 2.8 billion ($ 32,558,139) has been deposited and over 1.6 million customers having used M-Shwari in less than four months after its launch. This will deepen financial inclusion to the many unbanked Kenyans.
There is evidence that Samsung is now emerging as the leader of smartphones in Kenya, over and ahead of Nokia and Apple. The Samsung Galaxy note II and the S III have been well received by many early tech adopters. I expect Samsung Galaxy SIV to be hugely successful in Kenya.
Social media usage is growing among Kenyan brands as a communication and marketing channel. Kenyans are now demanding accountability from their leaders via social media discussing politics, food, sports, relationships etc. It is evident that most online users do not understand the stickiness of the Internet when it comes to what and how much they share online. There’s a lot of private data being shared online including mobile numbers and physical locations that can potentially compromise one’s security or privacy. Fact is that the Internet never forgets and one must be mindful of their digital footprint.
Kenya is only second to South Africa in terms of number of tweets sent according to a research done by Portland Communication. Twitter has added Kenya as a trend location which means anyone can easily follow a Kenyan topic and see what is trending locally. 57% of Tweets from Africa are sent from mobile devices and 60% of Africa’s most active Tweeters are aged 20-29.
The surge in online communication including political debates on social media in Kenya can be attributed to the increased internet penetration and reducing cost of data by Telecommunication companies. Twenty years ago, you required a satellite dish mounted on a mast to get an Internet connection in most parts of Kenya. This was not only pricey but also slow. Today, Kenya is now home to four sub-marine (Fibre optic) cables: – The East African Sub Marine System (EASSy), The East African Marine System (TEAMS), Lower Indian Ocean Cable Network 2 (LION2) and Seacom.
Kenya is home to over 30 million mobile subscribers and 16 million internet users according to the industry regulator CCK. Also noteworthy is that there has been a significant reduction in the number of postal letters.
The growth in mobile and Internet usage has however brought challenges for the government, namely online fraud and hate speech. According to CCK, a total number of 2,408,266 unregistered mobile lines have been switched off as of January 8 2013, after the expiry of the December 31 2012 deadline. This was a measure aimed at curbing increased number of fraud cases done using mobile phones as anyone could buy a sim-card and commit a fraud without being traced easily.
The other trend is that while the usage of tablets continues to increase among Kenya’s middle-class, the PC desktops and Laptops will remain for some time to come.
The digital era is here with us; the question is whether brands are aligning their businesses to tap into the potential that it offers.
Article originally published at http://www.cio.co.ke