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Internet top priority for Kenyans, says study

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 5 – A survey that was commissioned last year to understand the life of digital space users in the country has shown that having Internet connection is a major priority for many Kenyans.

Melissa Baker the Director of Research at TNS Research International that conducted the study said that 63 percent out of the 1,699 respondents in the online survey said they value having Internet connectivity compared to 23 percent who said they value their mobile phone.

“People are beginning to understand that with the Internet, you can access a whole range of different services,” she said while releasing the findings.

The survey also found out that the importance of the web to Kenyans far outstrips that of other countries in the developed world as well as globally.

On a scale of 1-10, Kenyans’ Internet requirement stood at eight when the question ‘how much would not having internet affect your daily routine and personal activities’ was posed compared to six for the rest of the world.

“For those people who are online, they are extremely dedicated and committed to the Internet even more so than in all those other countries that we surveyed,” she said.

The firm partnered with the Kenya ICT Board to undertake the research which was carried out between December and February.  Nearly all respondents were degree or diploma holders, the researcher said.

Ms Baker said the research showed that Kenyans go online frequently to access mostly educational information and communicate which presents an immense opportunity for marketers to exploit. Sixty two percent connect to the Internet more than five times per day while 17 percent log on two to five times for an average of one hour.

The high cost and slow speed of connectivity were identified as major challenges that hinder many users from spending more time online.

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“Seventy seven percent said they would like to spend more on the internet, so the demand is high for more opportunity for connection,” Ms Baker added pointing to future trends which were likely to result in increased internet penetration.

The findings showed that majority, (56 percent) were accessing the Internet from their work places while the phone was the most popular in the category of other places that they access the net.

“While the mobile phone is not the primary source to connect to the Internet, its significance in allowing people to access the net is growing,” she said adding that 50 percent of the respondents said they would prefer to use their phones to browse compared to the computer. The main barrier was however, the small screen and the low content that is adapted to the phone.

This pointed to the likelihood of a move towards mobile phone-based browsing which called for better visibility and more content designs for the phone interface.

Present at the function was Information Permanent Secretary Dr Bitange Ndemo who said once the report would help spur IT uptake and growth in the country.

The government he said had undertaken various measures to lay and deploy infrastructure to all parts of the country and develop local content in a bid to scale up the penetration that is now estimated at five million users.

He exuded optimism that this number will grow to 10 million by 2012, while mobile penetration could hit the 100 percent mark by 2014.

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