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Kenyans forgo essentials to buy phone credit

Nokia's new Android phone in Kenya, the NokiaX. Kenyans have elevated communication as a basic need.

Nokia’s new Android phone in Kenya, the NokiaX. Kenyans have elevated communication as a basic need.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 14 – Mobile phone users have been urged to avoid viewing the gadgets as a necessity because they end up draining their resources, particularly low income earners.

Various speakers at the World Consumer Rights Day marked on Friday at a Nairobi hotel warned that unless Kenyans stop foregoing other crucial expenditures to purchase airtime, poverty levels will keep increasing.

They cited a past World Bank report that shows one in every five Kenyan mobile consumers forego some usual expenditure in order to top up their phones with at least Sh70 to Sh1,000 weekly.

According to the published report, the participants of the study were described as those at the base of the pyramid.

Youth Education Network Program Assistant Pauline Nderi observed that the low income consumers spend more money on credit top ups compared to higher income earners.

“Majority of the poor Kenyans actually use the pre-paid service as they load cheaper credit where they spend more than those people who are on post-paid services.” she said.

“Sh20 is the least that one can spend and if you do the average it adds up to Sh600 per month and if someone is topping up Sh50 its Sh1500 per month which is still more expensive than post-paid.”

Consumer Information Network, Project Officer, Celine Awuor emphasised the need for Kenyan consumers to be educated to know their rights and responsibilities to avoid exploitation from service providers.

“Mobile phones have become more than just a phone, they are such an important part of our life that it would also require the same or more amount of regulation to ensure that we are actually enjoying these services and we are getting our money worth on using these phones.”

“The theme for this year’s Consumer Rights Day ‘Fix Our Phone Rights’ is relevant to the concerns of consumers service needs, it is time for consumers to review their relationship with mobile phone service providers,” She added.

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