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Mobile data good, home connections bad

Kenya is making major strides in internet connection thanks largely to mobile internet connections. However, residential connections have stagnated due to the relatively higher costs of PC’s and internet subscription.

This is according to a survey released on Tuesday by the Kenya ICT Board.

The Julisha survey, conducted by the global ICT research firm IDC, showed that Kenya has 10 million internet users but only 4.7 million internet subscriptions; 90 percent of the subscriptions being mobile data subscriptions.

“In more developed countries, the total number of connections vis-à-vis the number of users are evenly spread,” said Francis Hook, IDC regional manager.

“In countries like Kenya, Nigeria and Morocco, there is lower number of connections but a higher number of users. This means most connections are shared including business connections, educational institutions and cyber cafes.”

The survey benchmarked Kenya’s performance against selected countries including Nigeria, Rwanda, Philippines, Egypt, South Africa and Morocco.

Kenya’s internet penetration, standing at 23 percent, compares much better to many African countries including South Africa, Rwanda and Nigeria, again due to the high number of mobile data subscriptions. However household connections remain low owing to a declining fixed network.

Only 2 percent of Kenyan households have residential internet connections, as opposed to South Africa’s 8 percent. Egypt and Morocco fair much better on both internet penetration and residential connections with over 30 percent of total population.

“In terms of business usage of the internet, Kenya is nearly at par with more developed countries like Egypt and Morocco and slightly ahead of Nigeria,” said Hook during the presentation of the results.

At $40 for a 512kb point to point connection, the cost of broadband remains high in Kenya despite added capacity over the last two years. But it is still two times cheaper than in Nigeria and Rwanda, while it is below the $25 mark in Egypt, Morocco and South Africa.

The Julisha survey also revealed a shortage of skilled IT staff, estimated at over 10,000 in different ICT fields including software development, IT administrators, IT managers, web designers and system analysts. 45 percent of companies’ surveyed said it’s difficult to find qualified systems analysts and software developers.

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“Software Developers (at 70 percent growth) and Project Managers (at 57 percent growth) are the professions expected to grow the fastest over the period 2011 – 2013,” according to the IDC report.

Commenting on the survey, ICT Board CEO, Paul Kukubo, said the Board is addressing the areas under survey including increasing local vendor participation through several programmes implemented by the Board and partners.

(By KEN MACHARIA)

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