Internet users in Kenya reaches 3.4 million

By James Ratemo in Nairobi, Kenya

Number of Internet users increased from 2.9 million in 2007 to 3.4 million in 2008, despite an economic slump, the Economic survey 2009 reveals.

However Internet penetration has been among the least accessible telecommunication service due to lack of infrastructure and relevant local content.

The much-anticipated undersea Fibre Optic cable {TEAMS} next month, and improved competition regulatory framework would boost Internet penetration.

“Introduction of broadband services by mobile operators is expected to further boost Internet penetration and use which has remained low in the past,” reads the survey in part.

The Communication Commission of Kenya {CCK} issued 127 licenses to Internet service providers {ISPs} out of which 56 were operational compared to 50 in 2007.

According to the Survey, number of mobile phone subscribers stood at 12.9 million last year up from 9.3 million in 2007. This is against mobile telephone capacity of 25million subscribers.

The broadcasting sector experienced increased demand for frequencies. CCK assigned a total of 30 FM new frequencies out of 295 applications for FM broadcasting.

The number of applicants awaiting allocation for TV frequencies increased from 143 in 2007 to 192 in 2008.

The year under review {2008} also saw launch of the first digiatal mobile television broadcast network in the country.

The CCK assigned nine TV broadcast channels to Digital; Video Broadcasting-handheld {DVB-H} but a number of assigned frequencies were recalled due to non-utilisation.

This resulted to the total number of frequencies in operation dropping from 127 in 2007 to 81 in 2008.

Radio Frequencies in use dropped from 368 in 2007 to 268 last year.

“The CCK continued to spearhead the preparatory process of the transition from analogue to digital TV broadcasting. It is anticipated that the transition would help in reducing the number of applicants and those on waiting list due to spectral efficiency of Digital technology,” reads the report.

Kenya has set 2012 as the year of transition ahead of the 2015 global deadline.

“In order to improve access to ICT services, the CCK implemented 16 school-based ICT centres spread across the eight provinces and funded establishment of fiur ICT community access points,” reveals the survey.

Circulation of daily newspapers rose to 99.3 million copies last year up from 98.4million copies in 2007 which is a 4.6 per cent increase.

Over 12.6 million English weeklies were sold up from 9.3 million copies in 2007.

“Circulation of Swahili morning paper also rose in 2008…the improved performance in the English weeklies could have been driven by the release of the Kriegler and Waki reports of inquiry into the post election violence, the US elections and also the release of the KCPE results in December last year,” argues the report.

In overall Kenya’s economy fell to 1.7 per cent last year down from 7.1 per cent in 2007.

Releasing the report yesterday Planning Minister, Wycliffe Oparanya said the post-election violence experienced in the first quarter of 2008 led to declines in most sectors of the economy.

Apart from the post-election violence, the slump is attributed to the global financial crisis and the high fuel and food prices.

Stiff competition has seen Mobile operator Safaricom, one of the most profitable blue chips East Africa also announcing a 23.3 per cent decline in pre-tax profits for the full year period ended March 31, 2009.

The number of subscribers on Telkom Kenya’s Orange mobile network has grown to one million in eight months of operation with Zain being forced to revise its off network tariff upwards, from sh8 a to sh12 a minute.

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