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Research: Internet access is top priority for most smartphones users in Kenya

More than 90 percent of Kenyans with access to smartphones are always connected to the Internet, a new research has revealed.

The research by Consumer Insight, released on Friday, shows that Internet is at the centre of digital lives of Africans with Kenya and Nigeria leading the way in Africa’s digital transformation.

The report dubbed Digitalk Report, shows that 96 percent of Kenyans with access to smartphones are always connected to the Internet socialising, shopping, banking, consuming news, gambling, dating, and finding education and career opportunities, among other activities.

A similar percentage has been witnessed in Nigeria while in South Africa the percentage is 93, in Tanzania 91 percent and lastly 87 percent in Uganda.

Consumer Insight’s Research Director Ms Ruth Ruigu explained that the idea of the Internet as a commercial platform has started to gain traction in Africa’s online space, particularly with the adoption of the phenomena of online businesses, online shopping, and online influencers.

She pointed out that online shopping is highest in Nigeria at 64 percent, followed by South Africa at 62 percent, Kenya at 57 percent, Tanzania at 39 percent, and Uganda at 9 percent.


Additionally, the internet continues to be the first port of call for many shoppers, with most internet users interviewed admitting to conducting an online search before making a purchase decision.

This, explained Ms Ruigu, has been fuelled by a technology wave that has hit the shores of Africa’s consumer markets quite heavily over the last decade or so, with Internet right at the heart of Africa’s digital transformation.

“It is no longer business as usual in Africa. Everything—and everyone, it seems—has gone online. There is a major force rippling through the African marketplace, and that is the Internet and one thing is clear: the Internet train is making its sure and steady way through Africa, and those who don’t hop on will definitely get left out,” said Ms Ruigu.

The report revealed that smartphone ownership among the Internet users is also high with Kenya leading the way at 85 percent followed by South Africa at 84 percent, Nigeria at 80 percent, Uganda at 78 percent, and Tanzania at 71 percent.

This is fuelled by the high penetration of mobile phones, which is at the centre of Internet access in Africa, with the numbers remarkably high at 98 percent for Kenya and Uganda followed by Nigeria at 94 percent, Tanzania at 92 percent and South Africa at 89 percent.

The study also showed that with the higher access to the Internet, social media penetration among Internet users has also increased with Nigeria leading the way just ahead of Kenya.


Social media penetration in Nigeria is at 85 percent followed by Kenya at 81 percent, South Africa at 80 percent, Uganda at 76 percent, and Tanzania at 53 percent.

Notably, there is a growing shift in the usage of social media with users not only big on chatting, watching videos, or staying updated but are also using it to regularly receive news-based fun content, and sharing it across social media channels.

Ms Ruigu explained that the primary allure of social media is in the fact that news-consumption can be customised to one’s tastes and interests resulting in less people watching offline TV, listening to offline radio, and reading physical newspapers.

She stated that social media remains a good way for Internet users to remain in the know, with the majority of African internet users saying that it is typical for them to log onto social media to stay updated.

“With the Internet comes yet another dominant phenomenon: social media. And even though social media has sometimes been known to be anti-social — what with its dangers of addiction, fraud, impersonation, and cyber-bullying — African internet users still like to don their social media hats,” she said.

The study involved a sample base of more than 4,000 internet users drawn from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, South Africa and other African countries.