As the December holiday season sets in, Kenyan university student Beatrice Achieng is spending more time online checking on various promotions on different goods as she hunts for bargains.
She is also checking on places where one can tour during the holiday, hoping she will convince her parents to visit.
“I am also watching on my phone the numerous holiday-themed movies that are available online and chatting with my friends on social media,” the second-year sociology student said on Tuesday.
Achieng is among the millions of Kenyan youth who are enjoying a decrease in internet costs in the East African nation.
Internet prices have hit a new low with citizens buying 1 gigabyte (GB) for some 33 Kenyan shillings (about 0.33 U.S. dollars) as competition between telecommunication firms in Kenya intensifies.
About 99 percent who have subscribed to the internet access the service on their mobile phones, according to the latest data from the Communications Authority.
The increase in numbers has been linked mainly to the falling costs, with other drivers being the digitization of private sector and government services including job searching, social media use, affordable smartphones and sports betting.
Bernard Mwaso of Edell IT Solution in Nairobi noted that Kenyans are spending hours on the internet because it is affordable.
“If the internet was costly, then people would not be attracted to some of the services like chatting hours on end on social media because it would be expensive,” he said.
Mwaso observed that the low costs are making internet services in Kenya as cheaper as any other basic need.
“As a country, Kenya has now moved beyond the issue of affordability. The discussion has now shifted to what people do online and for how long they stay there,” he said.
A majority of Kenya’s internet users are aged between 18 and 40, with the low internet costs creating opportunities for hundreds of youths.
Comedians, DJs, musicians and TV stars are some of the careers that are seeing a high number of entrants emerging through social media sites. This is because people are able to post their short works there and due to low internet costs, citizens are able to view them.
Increased internet usage has also boosted e-commerce not only for big online firms but also for individual Kenyans, according to the Communication Authority.
“I sell most of my produce via social media sites,” said farmer Antony Kiarie, noting he takes photos of his chickens and eggs and posts them online,” he said. People see them and call him or reach him through the social media sites, where they haggle prices and then he delivers them in Nairobi and its vicinities. Enditem