IT and Internet use in East Africa

12.11.2013 Rezman Mirsom
Internet is one of the technologies that have grown very fast, much more than any other media. In East Africa people and corporates have embraced it in a very big way. With the introduction of smartphones, the use of the Internet for personal use has risen considerably. People are using these devices to access the internet to download games, for social media, to read news and download e-books.

In the East Africa and Africa at large, effective use of Internet has had a lot of challenges because of low penetration of these services. This has made the cost of accessing the Internet to be very high and sometimes making it unattractive to individuals whom majority are youths. Internet usage here is mostly used by youths because they are the ones who are conversant with the technology but as the popularity increases, the old have started to show interest due to the fact that some basic services like banking are now available via the internet.

Competition amongst the service providers that has increased in recent past has made the cost of accessing internet to go down, though it still remains an affordable to many considering the high rate of unemployment among the youth in East Africa. These service providers have resulted to give free WiFi connection services in public transport as a way of creating awareness to the people.

In Kenya for example many corporate institutions like banks, Kenya revenue authorities and print media have taken their services to the internet. This is a clear indication that internet usage is going to new levels in East Africa. A few years ago Kenya was connected to the rest of the world by the fiber optic cable. This was a major boost in increasing the speed of the internet that was previously very low.

The governments of the East African nations have been in the front line of encouraging the use of IT and the internet. For example Kenyan government zero rated import duty on all computer devices in a bid to lower the prices of computers and make them affordable for all. There is also a government initiative to provide free laptops to all children in public schools.

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