Catalyzing the growth of the Kenya tech community

Final report released on how base of the pyramid (BoP) Kenyans use mobile phones

By Angela Okune
iHub Research
  Published 07 Jan 2013
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Final report released on how base of the pyramid (BoP) Kenyans use mobile phones

iHub Research, Research Solutions Africa, and infoDev have released the final report looking at how Kenyans living on less than $2.50 a day are using mobile phones.TheKenyacase study is part of a large, multi-country research commissioned byinfoDev about the use of mobile phones at the Base of the Pyramid (BoP), the poorest people around the world. The research program is supported by UKaid, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Government of Finland and SIDA (Sweden).

The Kenya study, carried among 800 mobile users in six locations across the country, found that most people at the BOP (60%) have access to mobile phones, but do not exploit the phone’s full potential by using applications (except for M-PESA). This is due to lacking awareness/marketing campaigns, confusion about the difference between applications, phone functionalities, and Internet, and challenges in the use of USSD/SMS applications.

Based on insights gained from the research, we advise mobile application developers focused on BoP to develop for their users’ specific needs, and carefully ponder their technologicalplatform choice. We believe that due to the difficulties faced by mobile application start-ups for scaling,collaboration amongst the stakeholders in the mobile telephony industry is critical for relevant mobileapplications to reach the BoP. The fact that no applications beyond M-PESA have found a wide user baseshows that efforts by individual organizations are unlikely to reach the required critical mass for impact.If Government, MNOs, Donors and Investors, and Local Content Developers can form meaningfulpartnerships, the applications being developed locally may be able to scale further and faster, therebyhopefully helping to alleviate some of the poverty at the base of the pyramid in Kenya.

A sister base of the pyramid study was carried out inSouth Africa by Research ICT Africa and Intelecon and builds on a broader household survey of ICT usage across 12 countries in Africa funded by IDRC (Canada). The report shows that, in South Africa, even among BoP populations, some three-quarters already have phones, but usage of data applications is fairly low. The one exception here is the MXit social networking platform and there is growing use of other social media, notably Facebook Zero. But other applications, such as mobile money, do not seem to be well targeted to the poor.

For more information, check out an earlier blogbyinfoDev'sTim Kellyand lead researcher Angela Crandall (iHub Research): "Mobile phone credit instead of bread? For many Kenyans, a real dilemma".

The two publications can be downloaded oninfoDev'spublications web page.

For a direct download of the Kenya study (pdf), clickhere.

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