Computer, Internet costs hinder ICT growth

November 23, 2011
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Fifty eight percent of respondents had no Internet connection/FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 22 – The high cost of computers and Internet subscriptions remain major reasons for the low levels of Internet usage in Kenya according to a new survey released by the Kenya ICT Board on Tuesday.

The survey, dubbed Julisha, showed 58 percent of respondents having no Internet connection for lack of computers, and 28 percent, who owned computers, citing the cost of Internet subscriptions as a hindrance.

Although the survey also showed even lower household internet penetration numbers at 2.2 percent, Kenya ICT Board CEO Paul Kukubo said the findings presented a business opportunity for local Internet Service Providers (ISP).

“Internet Service Providers should look at the figures in terms of absolute connectivity and look at the gap in terms of how many people would like to have connectivity in their houses and are not getting it,” he said.

When compared to other African countries such as Nigeria and Rwanda Kenya fared well in household penetration.

In the study, conducted by International Data Corporation (IDC), Kenya was benchmarked against several other African countries including Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa and Rwanda on various ICT indicators.

As far as total Internet user penetration, Kenya registered just above 20 percent, however still beating South Africa that came in just below 15 percent.

This performance is credited largely in part to heavy mobile Internet use that registered high figures in the survey with 80 percent of respondents indicating that they used mobile phones or Internet enabled phones to access the Internet.

Out of the approximately 27,000 IT professionals in the country 27 percent were IT support and 13 percent were system engineers, showing a low concentration in advanced skilled positions.

Often skilled IT professionals frustrated with the local ICT market leave to work abroad, creating a brain drain in the industry.

Local institutions, the survey showed had a scarcity of experienced faculty and general shortage of teaching skills for technology that translated to a low number of IT-skilled graduates.

With 41 percent of university graduates lacking project management skills and innovative thinking, Kukubo said the skills shortage in the country must be addressed through more certification programs.

“On certification and skill the ICT Board is involved in a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University on software certification. It is our plan to graduate in two or three years 1000 certified graduates, a year, out of Kenya,” he said.

The survey estimated that software developers (at 70 percent growth) and project managers (at 57 percent growth) are the professions expected to grow the fastest over the period of 2011 and 2013.

On the business front, of the 150 businesses surveyed, 27 percent mentioned the quality of service as a major constraint of internet usage followed by internet prices.

Despite the setbacks, businesses in Kenya were on par with more developed countries like Egypt, Morocco and the Ukraine in terms of Internet usage.

The communication, consumer, government and financial sectors posted the highest spending percentages in ICT, with the hardware spending total for 2011 at $681million.

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