Kenyans set to use 1 billion gigabytes of data by 2022 – Nendo report

Increased uptake of data-intensive activities, like heavy use of social media applications like Twitter and Facebook as well as other social platforms that encourage both creation and consumption of high volume content like Instagram and YouTube, will drive data usage in the country to a whopping 1 billion gigabytes.

In just 4 years, Kenya’s data consumption is expected to nearly quadruple.

According to Nairobi-based digital consultancy firm Nendo’s State of Mobile Data 2019 report, Kenyans used over 269 million gigabytes of data last year across video, web browsing, music, communications, social networking among others.

In 2018, Kenyans were expected to use over 269 million gigabytes of data across video, web browsing, music, communications, social networking and other digital content.

“By 2022, data consumption for Kenya is expected to cross 1 billion gigabytes per year,” sums up the report.

While the rise in data consumption is definitely good news to the country’s internet service providers who include mobile network operators, it also means that there’s a need to invest in networks that can handle the accompanying demand volume-wise to provide the expected reliability and consumer demands consumption-wise with factors like proper data management becoming more prominent by the day.

The latter has driven demand for features like data managers that either limit data use or provide insights into what users are spending their data on, offering a level of transparency previously provided by third parties and, in the case of Android devices, the system itself.

Android is king in Kenya

Android-powered smartphones account for 98% of Kenya’s smartphone market.

The devices, which can fetch as low as Kshs 3,500 in the case of the Safaricom Neon Kicka 4 that runs a build of the mobile operating system tailored for devices with basic hardware specifications and as high as the new Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus which goes for more than Kshs 130,000, have captured the market’s imagination.

This is not by accident, though. The platform’s offering variety has worked positively in its favour while it also has impactful pioneers like the Huawei U8150 IDEOS to thank for laying the correct foundation.

“There are iPhone and Windows phones still in the market, but both are firmly in the minority…,” notes the Nendo report.

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Google headlines search in Kenya

An understated perk of being behind a platform such as Android is that you get to have a say in how it shapes up to be. In the case of Google and Android, that involves licensing devices so that they can access the vast catalogue of applications available and distributed through the Google Play Store.

The licensing process involves devices preloading applications from the search giant. Naturally, the ubiquitous Google app is one of those that arrive pre-installed on most Android smartphones. That and Google Search being the default search engine on most Android-based mobile browsers has meant that Google remains the most popular search engine in the country by far with over 96% market share.

Kenyans are big on social


At a time when Ugandans are abandoning their social media accounts to counter a tax introduced last year, Kenyans’ social media activity went up with the place of the smartphone heavily cemented.

“Over 98% of Kenyans on Facebook use their mobile phones to connect and use the service.”

A further 1.5 million Kenyans are more active on Twitter.

While that number may appear small, the report notes that given KOT’s (Kenyans on Twitter) influence in local issues, “The total reach and impact of Twitter cannot be reduced to its users.”

This is no mean feat at a time when social media users in neighbouring countries are decreasing due to the introduction of a social media tax.

Last year, the Kenyan government increased the excise duty on SMS, voice and internet services by 5%, a move that led to a reciprocal action by industry players who also revised upwards costs associated with their services. Like Safaricom’s broadband home internet service, for instance. The effects of that move, while obviously not captured in last year’s outlook as highlighted in the report, if any, will likely be felt this year. Of importance will be whether, like in Uganda’s case, there is any considerable drop in usage of social media applications, one of the biggest driver of data use in the country.

Kenya has the lowest internet prices in the region

Compared to other countries in the East African region, Kenya has the lowest price per megabit per second at just Kshs 340.

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While that is so, at Kshs 2 per MB for the most affordable network operator (Telkom Kenya) and Kshs 8 per MB for the dearest (Airtel Kenya), out-of-bundle browsing (what others call Pay As You Go) is relatively expensive compared to what one gets when they purchase data bundles from their network operator.

All of the country’s operators have competitive data bundle rates that keep on being revised often as competition heats up, much to the delight of the subscribers who not only get variety and options but also the freedom to get value for their money.

According to the Nendo report, the average daily usage of a smartphone user in Kenya is about 10 megabytes per day.

Online ads secretly consume valuable data bundles

Websites, such as, deploy advertising tracking technology to follow users around in order to serve them appropriate ads by correctly determining their personality, behaviour and interests online based on the trail they leave.

While that is well known, what is not well-known is the fact that doing so can be costly to the consumer of a website’s content as such ad-tracking and, subsequently, the advertising delivered, eats up into a user’s data bundles.

Nendo, in its State of Mobile Data 2019 report notes that some of Kenya’s biggest digital media properties are key drivers of data consumption thanks to their ad-tracking technology as can be seen below.

As such, it is not surprising to see the increase in popularity in features like in-browser ad blockers. Their use can result in cost savings on the side of the consumer much as that means damnation to digital media owners.

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