In Summary
  • Laying of cable in Nairobi and other major towns has targeted upmarket residential and businesses areas only.
  • Given the informal nature of most businesses in Nairobi’s “River Road”, it is assumed that the owners would not spend like those in upmarket .

  • These neglected businesses and residential areas offer a huge untapped potential for high value connections.

In the past half-decade, Kenya has seen a surge in high-speed broadband adoption with the country’s internet users growing exponentially.

In 2010, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) said the total available bandwidth capacity was 202,720 megabits per second (Mbps). In 2016, this number had grown to 2 million, a nine-fold increase in broadband capacity.

During the same period, fixed fibre optic data subscriptions to homes and businesses have grown, reducing the cost of connectivity, and allowing more homes and businesses to be connected.

EASTLANDS

However, despite this triumph in the number of internet adoption across the board, many high-populated parts of Nairobi city centre, generally referred to as “River Road” and mainly residential Eastlands area, still remain underserved by the high-speed fibre grid. The divide is worse in smaller towns and rural areas.

Laying of cable in Nairobi and other major towns has targeted upmarket residential and businesses areas, leaving out places not considered economically attractive. It is assumed that upmarket areas will adopt services faster and spend more.

Given the informal nature of most businesses in Nairobi’s “River Road”, it is assumed that the owners would not spend like those in upmarket areas. However, there is no evidence that, provided with infrastructure, these businesses would not match upmarket businesses in monthly spend.

GDP

These neglected businesses and residential areas offer a huge untapped potential for high value connections that can not only reap benefits to service providers, but also yield more contribution to the country’s gross domestic product.

On the business front, this vast and busy area of Nairobi that includes Moi Avenue, Tom Mboya and Ronald Ngala streets moving outwards to Kamukunji and Gikomba marketing districts are characterised by small and micro businesses that form a huge part of the city’s economic output. 

A research conducted by the Communications Authority of Kenya and the KNBS in 2016 looking into how businesses access the internet in their operations found a lower capacity down the scale.

While 97 and 92 per cent of large and medium enterprises reported using fixed broadband, the proportion was much lower among micro-enterprises at 71 per cent.

SIM CARDS

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