It has emerged that many Kenyans are still hanging onto their feature phones. This has been the case for an extended period of time, but there are several factors why it has been so.
First of all, feature phones are cheap, and considering the purchasing power of locals is low, especially for smartphones, it would make sense why dumb devices still continue to appeal to them.
Secondly, there is a notable percentage of the population that doesn’t care about smartphones at all.
These are people who access news and entertainment services from other channels such as radio, newspapers, and TV, hence do not see the need for smart devices.
There are other trivial reasons too, such as the older generation that has little knowledge about digital services and is better served by their non-smart devices.
Now, the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has the new numbers for the 2022/23 Financial Year, which ended in September 2022. According to the ICT watchdog, there are 60.7 million mobile phone devices that are connected to mobile networks.
Out of these, nearly 33 million of them are feature phones. Smartphones stand at 27.9 million.
This also means that the penetration rate for feature phones and smartphones is now at 66.5 percent and 56.4 percent, respectively.
Nonetheless, there are several programs that have been put in place to ensure that as many Kenyans have access to affordable smartphones. Safaricom, for instance, sells Neon devices, which costs from KES 3500 or thereabouts. The phones are packed with Android Go version, which is light enough thanks to the devices’ pedestrian specs. They also have features such as 4G connectivity, which makes sense because Safaricom leads the pack in terms of 4G coverage at 97 percent.
The Lipa Mdogo Mdogo program has also been picked up by Safaricom too. It allows users to pick devices of their choice; they pay a deposit and clear the rest of the bill under daily installments that are as low as KES 20.
President Ruto has also mentioned that Kenya should be able to locally manufacture a device, which should also be cheap for locals. There are no concrete plans that have been given as far as this program is concerned, but we are certain details will be given soon.