21.5% of Kenya Rural Youth Do Not Own Mobile Phones

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The Kenya ICT Ministry has drafted the Digital Economy Strategy.

The document has been around for a couple of weeks, and its offerings are based on the following pillars: Digital Government, Digital Business, Infrastructure, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Digital Skills and Values and Digital Inclusion.

The examination of the strategy, which we have covered here, highlights other key statistics about the entire digital economy landscape in Kenya, especially where the youth are involved. The numbers spell out different facets of digital inequality.

Before we can look into these numbers, it should be noted that some of the issues that perpetuate digital exclusion among marginalized groups (the youth, women, minorities, the elderly, rural communities and persons with disability) include, but are not limited to skills gaps and mismatches, insufficient connectivity coverage, information gaps and limited mobility, limited ownership and control of assets, as well as safety and security concerns.

The Numbers

Mobile phone use

About 21.5% of the youth in rural areas (18 to 35 years) do not own mobile phones.

Their rural counterparts are far ahead, because only 6.7% of them do not own mobile phones.

In the same breath, 22%of rural dwellers have no mobile phones, which is 14% higher than their urban counterparts.

In terms of gender, 13.4% men have no access to mobile phones. Women are most affected at 19%.

Financially excluded (no formal or informal)

The draft reports that rural youth are 16.6% financially excluded, and for the urban youth, 5.9% are financially excluded. 10.8% men are financially excluded, compared to 11.3% women. Lastly, 14.4% of rural folk are financially excluded compared to 6.1% urban.

Formally excluded

Furthermore, draft cites that rural youth are 24.9% formally excluded, and the urban youth, 8.6% are formally excluded. 19.7% women are formally excluded, compared to 1443% men. Lastly, 22.7% of rural folk are financially excluded compared to 8.9% urban.

Mobile money (financially and digitally excluded)

27.1% rural youth have no mobile money accounts; 10.7% urban youth have no mobile money accounts.

23.7% women have no mobile money accounts; 17.4% women have no mobile money accounts.

27% rural vs 11.4% urban.


Financially not healthy: 75.6% men are healthy vs 80.8% women.

Low use of digital services (mobile money, mobile bank accounts, digital apps + banks/insurance, assuming these have digital infrastructures) for meeting needs – liquidity, dealing with shocks and meeting future goals – 13.3%, 14.9% and 29.3% respectively.