Kenya has the highest number of people accessing Internet facilities and services within the East African Community.
According to a study conducted by TNS Research International in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu from September to November 2010, out of a population of 40 million, about four million (10 per cent) have access to the Internet.
The study, titled “Digital Life” and conducted to establish people’s online behaviour and activities, found that in Uganda, out of a population of 33 million, about 3.3 million (10 percent) have a access to the Internet while Tanzania comes last — out of a population of 42 million, only 672,000 people (1.6 per cent) have had an online experience.
The study found that based on an adult sample in each of the covered EAC towns, an average of 45 per cent of the urban population have used the Internet, with Kampala having the highest number at 53 per cent; Arusha and Nairobi at 49 per cent; Mombasa at 42 per cent while Dar es Salaam has the least number of people using the Internet at 31 per cent.
The TNS study revealed that in Kenya, mobile devices and Internet cafes are the primary points of access.
The results of the study show that 60 per cent of Kenyans online use mobile phones as compared with those who use PCs at home (29 per cent); PCs at work (33 per cent); and cyber cafes (41 per cent), thereby indicating high potential for growth in the mobile Internet business in Kenya.
Power of social media
The study found that though e-mail accessing remains the top online activity in Kenya and sub-Saharan Africa, usage of Internet for social media and education as well as knowledge access is growing steadily.
“The demography covered frequent users falling within the 16-60 age bracket, which represents the active online population. The study showed huge growth in Internet use, indicating that once Kenyans get online, they are highly engaged,” noted Melissa Baker, TNS Research International’s East Africa chief executive.
However, the study notes that barriers to Internet access — like lack of Internet-enabled handsets and PCs as well as lack of awareness of the benefits of the Internet — need to be addressed to raise the level of frequency of accessing Internet services as penetration is still low at between 10 and 15 per cent.