Half of Kenyans own smartphones, new report shows

The penetration levels of feature phones and smartphones stood at 67.9 per cent and 53.4 per cent. [Courtesy]

One out of every two Kenyans now owns a smartphone, according to new industry data that casts a spotlight on the country’s accelerating adoption of digital products and services.

The Communications Authority of Kenya’s (CA) sector statistics report covering the first quarter of 2021/2022 financial year indicates that the number of active mobile subscriptions in the country stood at 64.9 million as of September 30 this year.

“As of 30th September 2021, the number of mobile phone devices accessing mobile networks stood at 59.0 million, out of which 33.0 million were feature phones and 26.0 million smartphones,” said CA in the report.

“The penetration levels of feature phones and smartphones stood at 67.9 per cent and 53.4 per cent respectively.”

This puts Kenya among the top countries in Africa in smartphone penetration. The report now provides official data on the development indicator that had been the topic of much speculation in the sector.

In 2018, the PewResearch Center’s global attitudes survey put Kenya’s smartphone penetration at 30 per cent, the fourth-beggest in Africa behind South Africa (51 per cent), Ghana (35 per cent), Senegal (34 per cent) and Nigeria (32 per cent).   

According to the regulator, digital payments accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, remained popular among subscribers, with customer to business payments hitting Sh1.2 trillion in September this year. This was a 21 per cent increase from Sh988 billion recorded in June this year.

The value of government to citizens’ transfers, however, dropped 29 per cent from Sh2.6billion in the fourth quarter of last year to Sh1.8 billion. 

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