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Mobile data subscriptions account for 99 percent of all Internet access in Kenya

By Wayan Vota on July 14, 2011

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Take a close look at that chart from the Quarterly Sector Statistics Report for October-December 2010 from the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK). Does anything look striking to you? How about the number of mobile data subscribers? If you don’t fully grasp the chart yet, let us listen to what the CCK has to say about it:

The number of internet/data subscriptions reached 4.7 million at the end of the quarter under review up from 3.2 million at the end of the previous quarter. The growth in the data market is attributed to three mobile operators having rolled out their 3G services. This represents 46.8 per cent increase during the quarter under review. Satellite subscriptions have continued to decline significantly and during the quarter under review, a reduction of 12 per cent was experienced as illustrated in Table 7.

The mobile data/internet subscriptions through GPRS/EDGE and 3G continue to dominate internet subscriptions and accounted for 99 per cent of the total subscriptions during the period.

Wow, that statistic is stunning. Now I thought that mobile data had a commanding position in Internet access models, but 99%? No wonder that mobile phones are killing the cybercafé business model. This should be a clarion call to all webmasters too – you better have a mobile version of your site if you want to reach Kenyans.

Now what might this statistic say to fixed or wireless ISPs in Kenya?

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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks and is the Digital Health Director at IntraHealth International. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of IntraHealth International or other ICTWorks sponsors.
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4 Comments to “Mobile data subscriptions account for 99 percent of all Internet access in Kenya”

  1. zwan says:

    I think that those statistics may be misleading. Generally, operators in Africa don’t have data plans! All is “pay as you go”. And whoever has a GPRS / EDGE or 3G compatible phone on the network can access mobile data. But do they?
    I am afraid these statistics are counting any of those phone owners as mobile subscriber! Even in that case, it is more relevant to have a look on the volume of data exchanged in the different sorts of subscriptions before concluding.

  2. That’s great how mobile data plans can give Kenya the ability to skip the entire wired (literally) infrastructure – leapfrogging a generation of technology. Fascinating post.

  3. I think there are two things which define data subscriptions. First is the access model and second is the offering model. The best mode of access in Africa is the mobile (3G, GPRS, EDGE) and that’s where Kenya get’s it. And that’s where wireless providers edge out the wired providers, although wireless providers sometimes provide wired access as well. There’s always been debate about the best model of offering data services. Data plans VS pay as you go. For me it’s pay as you go. Data plans make more money for providers in the short term but pay as you go promotes usage. Data plans cap usage. If operators embrace the pay as you go model, these number will go even higher

  4. John Hawker says:

    GPRS/Edge is Toy Broadband

    People’s demand for sophistication grows fast.

    I’ve set up sites in places where they’ve not seen a PC nor a bloke as ugly as me before.

    I’d naively thought, well, let’s give them some free games for a while.

    within a few weeks they’ve been chatting to new found friends in the capital city and DEMANDING the latest online highspeed games available to play as well.

    Speed of sophistication and frustration is fast.

    GPRS/Edge doesn’t cut it, 3G won’t satisfy.

    They’ll want real broadband.

    That’ll mean a fixed line service,

    Then you’ll see smart cyber cafes suddenly returning.