Inside Politics

Kenyans say digital services have improved lives of user

Wednesday, August 11th, 2021 00:00 |
Digital world. Photo/Courtesy

Kenya’s economic recovery is expected to hinge on the financial technology sector to a large extent even as a vast majority of citizens already feel that digital services make their lives better, a new survey shows.

The report dubbed Kenya’s Digital Economy: A people’s perspective ,notes that 84 per cent of Kenyans interviewed said digital services have made their life better while 30 per cent reported a rise in income from using the digital services.

The report launched by Dalberg, a social impact advisory group, said apart from mobile money, other digital services that have greatly impacted livelihoods include e-commerce and e-governance.

Some of the key businesses driving the online industry in Kenya include e-commerce firms such as Copia and Jumia, Fintech products like M-Pesa, and M-Shwari, HealthTech platforms and Food-delivery startups.

“The next few years offer an opportunity to build on Kenya’s exceptional digital progress and to embrace lessons from surveys like this to advance the nation’s commitment to ensuring every citizen, enterprise and organisation is participating in the digital economy,” said Robert Karanja, the Director Responsible Technology at Omidyar Network.

Critical role

His views were echoed by Naoko Koyama, an advisor at Dalberg, who said considering the critical role played by digital economy, there was need to assess how these services were impacting everyday lives of Kenyans.

“Given Kenya’s role as a regional leader in digital penetration and usage, we recognise the importance of capturing perception of Kenyans on access, usage and impact of digital devices and services on their social and economic lives,” she said.

This corroborates another report launched last year which estimated that as one of the fastest-growing sectors in the country, the digital economy is expected to contribute Sh1.4 trillion (9.24 per cent of the GDP) to the economy by 2025.

Google and IFC says that Kenya will gobble up a big chunk of Africa’s Internet economy which has the great potential to reach Sh19.6 trillion ($180 billion) in the next four years. Kenya’s digital economy has experienced exponential growth in the recent past and was projected to contribute Sh810 billion (7.7 per cent of GDP) last year.

In terms of gender, more men than women use digital services at 54 and 35 per cent respectively.

The report estimates that 94 per cent of Kenyans use mobile money, 44 per cent of whom increased their usage during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The first case of Covid-19 in Kenya was reported in March 2020. The high rate of mobile money and digital services usage are supported by the country’s high rate of internet penetration and high level of smart phone ownership. So far, 27 per cent of Kenyans use e-governance services with 45 per cent of the respondents saying they anticipate that the controversial Huduma Namba service will improve their access to digital services.

Digital space

Many Kenyans, however, are concerned about fraud on the digital space with 30 per cent saying they have experienced it.

“Seventy one per cent of small business owners and self-employed people say concerns about digital fraud limit their usage of digital services for business,” reads the report in part.

Kenyans who are geographically, financially, or socially vulnerable are more likely to use only basic digital services such as sending and receiving payment on their mobile phones or topping up air-time.

According to the report, 85 per cent of rural residents with lower than primary education, 45 per cent of people with disabilities, 44 per cent of older people, and 37 per cent of adult farmers use only basic digital services or no digital services at all.

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