7 Ways In Which Kenya Is Mobile-First Everything
Over the last decade or so, Kenya has emerged as one of Africa’s epicenters for all things technology. A big part of this transformation has been driven by the rise of mobile technology in all of its myriad forms. To this end, here are 7 ways in which Kenya is a mobile-first economy in every sense:
Kenya has achieved an unprecedented level of mobile penetration as of this writing. Indeed, according to the Communications Authority of Kenya, there are now 37.8 mobile subscriptions which means we now have a market penetration of 88.1%. These numbers suggest that in a few short years Kenya will achieve 100% mobile penetration.
Kenya leads the world when it comes for mobile money, thanks to the mercurial rise of Safaricom’s M-Pesa. According to the Central Bank of Kenya, over Kes. 267B in transactions was done in December 2016 using mobile money and there were 36.1 million customers as well. There is hardly a service or product that cannot be paid for using mobile money in Kenya these days.
Kenya’s Internet is largely consumed via mobile devices. According to the Communications Authority of Kenya’s latest quarterly statistics, there are 21.6M Internet subscriptions in Kenya and 99% of those are mobile. In addition, there are over 6.3M broadband mobile subscriptions. Going forward, with the rise of smartphones, the mobile Internet will continue to shift to more broadband connections.
Kenya is seeing an unprecedented uptake of smartphones. In particular, low-cost android smartphones that sell for as little as Kes. 4,000.00. Due to this trend, we are seeing the rise of social media and over the top (OTT) mobile apps such as WhatsApp’s instant messaging and Uber’s on-demand taxi services that are proving hugely popular with the Kenyan consumers. Globally, mobile apps are consumed at a much higher rate compared to the mobile web so this is a trend that will continue to grow in Kenya.
Riding on the mobile money wave in Kenya is mobile banking. This is a space that has banks offering a range of innovative mobile banking services via mobile apps as well as USSD to their customers. Mobile banking has gained incredible traction and especially where mobile loans are concerned via services such as Safaricom’s M-Shwari, KCB’s M-Pesa and Equity Bank’s Equitel. In addition, other non-banking businesses such as InVenture’s Mkopo Rahisi and Branch are offering instant mobile loans using M-Pesa via mobile apps in Kenya with great success.
Thanks to Kenya’s massive mobile penetration, digital marketing is growing in tandem. Its impressive how many local and international brands are marketing to consumers via platforms such as Google and Facebook targeting mobile devices. In addition, many of these digital marketing campaigns use inherently mobile features to take full advantage of what mobile devices provide such as geo-targeting and mobile app specific features. This trend is set to grow going forward due to the fact that better sales conversions can be achieved in this manner.
The last couple of years has seen the rise of several mobile gaming companies and brands in Kenya such as SportPesa, Betin, Betway and mCheza. These companies are leveraging the combination of mobile money, mobile apps, USSD and SMS to provide mobile gaming services in the marketplace at a massive scale. As a result, what was a non-existent offing a few years ago has now become one of the hottest spaces for mobile-based commerce in Kenya. It is also expected that over the next few years that mobile gaming will continue to grow exponentially.