Inside Politics

Survey: How State is keeping millions of citizens offline

Thursday, September 30th, 2021 00:00 |
Internet. Photo/File

Kenyan home and broadband customers are paying more to use the internet, according to new findings which show that just 38.2 per cent of those connected are able to pay for such services.

The latest GSMA survey in its global State of Mobile Internet Connectivity Report 2021, further found that high taxes, at 44.3 per cent slapped on the internet services were constraining Kenyans from using the now essential tool.

“While more people than ever are now using the mobile internet, some fundamental barriers stop far too many people from using mobile internet.

To close this usage gap, all of us – government and industry – need to do more,” says the GSMA’s Chief Regulatory Officer, John Giusti.

High taxation regime on mobile money and internet users in Kenya was first put forward in 2018 when President Uhuru Kenyatta through a memorandum to Parliament recommended a 15 per cent excise tax on internet services and 20 per cent on mobile money transfers after the House passed the Finance Bill 2018.

The move, at the time, saw service providers across the country pass on the pain to consumers in what has lingered since.

Telecommunication and internet providers were forced to increase the cost of the services to factor in the taxes.

Cost of calls

Safaricom for instance, raised the cost of calls by 30 cents, and short message services (SMS by 10 cents, the firm also increased the cost of their fibre services.

Wananachi-owned, Zuku also increased the cost of its 10mbps package to Sh3,999 from Sh3,500.

The increase in the cost of calls and now internet has increased the burden of Kenyans who are still reeling from the economic effects of Covid-19, and ironically spending more time browsing and working online compared to pre-Covid era. 

And while the East African market is ranked superior to its regional peers in terms of infrastructure, the GSMA Mobile Connectivity Index which ranked Kenya at 49.6, felt that Kenya needs to also improve on its content and services delivery.

Communications Authority of Kenya has continuously claimed that Kenya’s phone and broadband market is one of the most competitive and keenly priced not only at the continental level, but also globally.

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