The mobile industry is a major contributor to economic growth. In 2018, the sector contributed $3.9 trillion to the global economy equivalent to 4.6 percent of world GDP. The industry provides employment to more than 32 million people directly or indirectly.
The mobile ecosystem is rapidly growing and it is estimated that 5 billion people – 60 percent of the world population – will be active mobile internet subscribers by the year 2025.
A report by GSMA intelligence shows that Kenya has Sub Sahara’s second most improved mobile industry after Cameroon. The improvement is attributed to better infrastructure and more affordable services. Kenya’s electricity connections rose to more than 50 percent of the population in 2018 from only 30 percent in 2014. In terms of network cover, access to 3G internet increased to 85 percent of Kenyans in 2017 from 67 percent in 2014. The quality of internet services has also advanced for the past four years.
Stiff competition in the mobile internet sector has seen data prices drop to more affordable rates for Kenyan consumers. As a result, more people are able to buy data and hence growth in the mobile internet sector. Exponential growth in Swahili content on the internet has resulted in high consumption of mobile internet services.
As per the report by GSMA intelligence, “More than 4 million people in Kenya connected to the mobile internet in between 2014 and 2017, increasing adoption from 16 percent to 24 percent.”
Increased connectivity in mobile internet services has led to several economic benefits including; increased job opportunities, enhanced financial services, and better access to information.
Kenya has 42.2 million active internet subscribers. Safaricom is the leading provider of mobile internet services in the country with 69.7 percent of the market share as at September 2018. Airtel and Telkom Kenya follow closely with 21.9 and 7.7 percent of market share respectively.