Digital Divide in Kenya

This article is about the 5000 Kilometre long fiber optic cable known as the East African Marine System and how Kenya compares to other African countries regarding internet connectivity. The article claims that “there is no longer a digital divide in Kenya” due to the abundance of attendance at cyber cafe’s. This is something I noticed very much while I was traveling through Kenya this summer. When one thinks about the digital divide, one assumes that the wealthier people in Nairobi would be the ones with complete access to the internet. On the other hand, one would assume that the farmer living in Kisii who lives in a hut would be the last candidate for using modern technology. In reality, every farmer I met this summer A) had a cell phone that they used frequently and managed funds with, and B) had Facebook accounts. In fact, as the article states, in some parts the Internet is more expensive in Nairobi due to the huge amount of Internet traffic. The digital divide is much less prevalent in Kenya than I expected.

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3 responses to “Digital Divide in Kenya

  • pboetefu

    This is a very interesting example, and I think it is important for us to consider these examples in order to avoid making over generalization or assumptions. We often discuss “the developing world” as if it is one entity or a homogenous set of nations, but there are important differences within the developing world. It is always important to think critically about the assumptions we make. On the other hand, I wonder why Kenya has been able to utilize ICT like the internet so well but other countries have not. Do you think that a similar system would work in other developing countries? Or why is this a phenomenon or success unique to Kenya?

  • cobykg

    I came across an interesting article (below) discussing the tech-boom in Kenya. While few Kenyans own their own computer, nearly 3/4 of Kenyans own a mobile phone – well above the African average. Therefore, much of the innovation is designed for mobile technology. Kenya’s ICT growth and high accessibility (particularly in the mobile field) can be attributed to the strong support of the government, innovative mobile-payment designs and collaborative programs for local tech firms to develop mobile applications.

    In Heeks’ article, he emphasizes the importance of ICT production for positive developmental impact. This seems to be the case in Kenya. One particular example is a business incubator and innovation center called NaiLab that recently opened in Nairobi. The lab supports start-up firms by providing advice, training and other resources to develop promising ideas. Most of these funds concentrate on mobile technology.

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