Research Firm Finds 10% of Kenyans Over 50 own a Smartphone


Internet connectivity has sure changed how we live in the world and in Africa, we are not too far behind. We can communicate easier via phone calls, text and even through instant messaging services over the Internet.

Pew Research Centre decided to conduct a study on 6 sub-Saharan African countries (Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Tanzania and Senegal) about the role the Internet plays in their country. They did this study from February 21st to April 28th 2017 among 6,795 respondents.

First, they found out that in sub Saharan Africa, majority own mobile phones but smartphone adoption was modest. In Kenya, 30% of people own a smartphone and 50% own a basic phone. This is a sharp contrast to the leader, South Africa, where 51% of people own a smartphone. However, smartphone ownership has been increasing in Kenya where it was as low as 19% in 2013.

It even gets more interesting when you compare mobile phone ownership and educational/financial gaps. In Kenya, they found out that 95% of more educated people owned smartphones. ‘More educated’ people meaning those people with a secondary education or more. 74% of Kenyans with less than secondary education had smartphones.

In 4 out of the six Sub Saharan African countries, they found that adults aged 50 and older are just as likely to own mobile phones as adults younger than 30. Interestingly enough, in Kenya, four in ten people under 30 have smartphones compared to just 10% of people aged 50 or older. It seems currently smartphones in Kenya is still a young people thing in the country.

In the region, Kenya still leads when it comes to mobile payments.  83% of Kenyans use their phones to conduct mobile money transactions, which is not surprising if you are a Kenyan. Compare this with South Africa where only 41% of people use mobile money and Nigeria where only 34% use mobile money.

Also in a flurry, 34% of Kenyans use the Internet to apply for a job, 40% use it to get news about politics, 39% use it to get health information and 43% use it to get information about prices. In addition, 82% of Kenyans access social media, 78% send text messages and 56% take pictures or videos with their phones.