The 2010 national census puts the country’s population at 38.6 million. 33.2% of Kenyans live in urban areas and the adult literacy rate is estimated at 85.1%.
Kenya has the biggest mobile subscription base in the region with 24.9 million mobile phone subscribers and a penetration rate of 63.2 percent (Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK), 2010). This despite having the least number of telecommunications industry players in the region – 4 (Safaricom, Airtel, Essar Telecom – Yu and Orange Telkom).
In 2006, less than 5 years ago, mobile subscriptions in the country were a mere 7.3 million. Not surprising given the growth of mobile phone use, the country’s fixed line subscriptions have seen a tremendous fall from over 675,000 at the end of 2009, to 380,000 in December 2010. The number of Kenyan Internet/data subscriptions is 4.7 million, with an estimated 10.2 million Internet users representing 26 percent of the country’s population.
Kenya is on the brink of becoming Africa’s ICT hub, thanks to the continued growth in Internet and mobile technology use in East Africa’s biggest economy. The recent World Bank Kenya Economic Update report (2010) states that over the last decade, ICT has outperformed all others sectors in Kenya, growing at an average of 20% annually. For instance, Mobile network operators have leveraged on the mobile phone penetration in Kenya to provide money transfer services. 15 million Kenyans use mobile money services and in December 2010, mobile money transactions were recorded at almost US $ 1 billion.
The report reveals that Kenya has opened 2011 with renewed and stronger than expected growth on the back of a new constitution, strong macro-economic policies, and a favourable regional environment.
Kenya’s Telecommunications sector at a glance(By author; Source: CCK Quarterly Sector Statistics Reports)
Oct – Dec 09
Jan – Mar 10
April - Jun 10
July – Sept 10
Oct – Dec 10
Fixed Lines (1000s) 676,371 570,813 460,114 369,971 380,748
19.4 19.9 20.1 22.3 24.9
(per 100 inhabitants)
49.7 51 51.2 55.9 63.2
(% of population)
10.2% 17.6% 19.9% 22.1% 25.9%
The Kenyan Universal Access Fund aimed at un-served or under-served areas of the country perceived by telecommunications operators as not commercially viable supports widespread access to ICT services, promotes capacity building and the development of ICT innovations. Established in 2010, the Fund has seen the CCK embark on projects addressing the digital divide within Kenya’s privileged and underprivileged. Some sixteen school-based ICT centres in eight provinces in the country have been established along with eight centres for disabled persons and four telecentres.