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Friday, March 5, 2010


Kenyans are a chattering lot. On the web that is. Data from a research commissioned from Telposta towers (that is where the Kenya ICT Board and the Ministry of Information) shows that majority of Kenyans go online to gab.

It is not alas, and to the chagrin of marketers to check out products to shop online for.

89 per cent of respondents surveyed said they mostly go online to chat while another huge chunk said it was mostly to Facebook. Most would like to surf on their mobile phone but are restricted by small screens and pages that are not formatted for the mobile web.

Kenya ICT Board (CEO Paul Kukubo pictured) commissioned TNS International to research internet usage by Kenyans within the borders with a view to creating a useful baseline report that firms and marketers can use to position themselves more appropriately on the net.

In a nutshell, companies need to know a couple of things about the potential Kenyan internet customer.

ONE: Facebook is the most popular destination for Kenyans with 90 per cent dropping in on the popular social networking site.

Hi5 (38%), Twitter (37%), LinkedIn (30%) and Youtube (30%) follow in that order. Tagged (23%) is it even used here?, Yahoo360 (20%), MySpace (20%) and others trail.

SECOND: While most Kenyans do not buy online (mostly because of the cost of delivery and the lpoor of credit card penetration), they do research products online. Apparently, while 78 per cent of users have researched a product online such as a mobile phone, only 51 per cent subsequently went to buy it and this they did directly from a shop and not an online store.

However, 88 per cent said they would be willing to pay for such goods using mobile money services like M-PESA and ZAP.

And they don't like what they are seeing of Kenyan websites - too little information is available and the most important, cost, as Kenyans are price conscious, is usually lacking.

ADVICE TO FIRMS: Have an internet presence, make sure your site shows up quite high on the search engine results and have the information people need.

THIRD: and confirming a suspicion I've long held that Kenyan college students do too much copy pasting from the net, the TNS report shows that knowledge led surfing rules the Kenyan networld.

Wikipedia ( I admit I use it often) ranks high on usage and again this confirms a feeling I've had that there is too little unique Kenyan information being generated by Kenyans. While researches and oral literature reviews of Western writing abounds on the net, you'd be hard pressed to find any meaningful takes on Kenyan books online.

FOURTH: Kenyans prefer to do their surfing on their mobile phones than in cybercafes ( I think I should do a cost comparison for this) .

FIFTH: 92 per cent have seen online ads and 45 per cent admitted to being influenced by them. However, 44 per cent said they trusted product reviews made by people who used the same product.

Some companies are doing something about their net presence.

Nation Media Group whose website is among the top visited Kenyan sites has an active Facebook group which draws on average 30 comments per each posted story. No word yet on how to monetize on FB but clearly it does no harm for DN's brand endurance.

"Internet is dominated by knowledge seeking behavior," Melissa Baker (pictured) who ran the research said when she presented the findings at Hotel Intercontinental.

Interest clearly was high. I came across some guys from Barclay's, Segeni Ng'ethe the guy who started Mama Mikes Online and now has a venture called Hapa TV was also present along with marketers from different firms.

Segeni would have been glad to learn that 66 per cent of Kenyan internet users link with their families outside Kenya. Those who may remember Segeni made his bones right after he left Georgetown University and started Mama Mikes a service that used to link with Nakumatt and Uchumi to get guys in the US to purchase Supermarket vouchers for their families back home.

Mama Mikes would deliver the vouchers to the address given by the sender.

But for guys selling products on the internet, there is still a ways to go.


  1. Interesting stats. Lets see what the industry does with it....

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