Synovate’s research on Internet usage in Kenya.

For anyone who follows this blog, you will know that I am passionate about technology and more specifically trends in Internet and mobile marketing in Kenya and the African continent. Therefore, it came as something of a pleasant surprise a couple of days back when I read an article in the Business Daily based on research findings done by Synovate Kenya (formerly known as the Steadman Group). Synovate’s research aimed to establish Internet usage trends in Kenya. The outcome, the “Digital Drive” report which is probably the first of its kind in Kenya identified the following key trends:

  • Kenya now has over 2 million registered users on Facebook.
  • Email is being discarded in favour of social networks like Facebook and Twitter by new Internet users in Kenya. One quarter of Kenyans who are online do not have email addresses.
  • 79% of Kenya’s Internet users are members of Facebook.
  • Daily and weekly internet usage in Kenya have both doubled in the last two years whereas monthly usage grew by over 80% in the same period.
  • Kenyan Internet users spend approximately 70 minutes online during each visit. This utilization is comparable to the average amount of time spent on television.

The findings confirm what I have been expecting for sometime now. With over 4 million internet users in Kenya, as well as 18 million mobile subscribers, we are about to enter an era of digital marketing like never before. The fact that consumers are spending so much time online and that half of the internet users get online via their mobile phone will lead to a whole new chapter in marketing in Kenya. Media spending WILL change. Brands will DEMAND a better Return On Investment (ROI). Advertisers who do not evolve to ride the digital wave will be rendered IRRELEVANT. Obviously, its not (yet) all doom and gloom. It won’t happen overnight but the writing is undeniably on the wall – “its time to get digital marketing MOJO”. Meanwhile, I can’t wait to get my hands on the complete Synovate Digital Drive Report for Kenya and do a more detailed summary here.

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  1. February 12, 2010 at 4:04 pm — Reply

    Am puzzled how a quarter of Kenyans online will not have an email address. There is so few things one can do without an email address on the net in my view. To join any social network site, an email address was mandatory the last time I checked. Same for buying and selling online. I think although the significance of email as a mode of communication is diminishing email addresses remain a major aspect of most sign in sites’ authentication mechanisms.
    .-= gmeltdown´s last blog ..M-PESA Fraud – Agents Beware! =-.

    • February 12, 2010 at 4:22 pm — Reply

      @gmeltdown good point. Did’nt think of that. Email is almost universally required to sign-up for lots of web sites including Facebook. It would be good to see the full report from Synovate though.

  2. February 13, 2010 at 6:46 am — Reply

    I do agree with you about emails not going obselete, atleast in the near future.Social sites like facebook are usually popular for a short while.One of the reasons why use of such social site dwindle over time is the commercialisation of the sites.For instance, If you compare yahoo.com’s popularity before google gmail inception, you will find that yahoo was one of the must have email account’s.However due to the several adds and the time a user takes to get to their mail, this is after wading through a lot of adds.I guess the same is going to happen to facebook if the concentrate more on quality of social communication rather than add revenue.
    However, this does not rule out the fact that many blue chip companies are investing a lot of money is social networking sites, this will most definitely affect email use as form of communication even at the “oficial front”-considering that people thought a while back that email was not a formal means of communications as opposed to the traditional postal systems.

    Communication technology timeline
    cave paints—->papyrus—>paper—->telegraph—->fax—->pager—->email—->microblogging—->?
    .-= Ishmael´s last blog ..Who are we? =-.

  3. February 13, 2010 at 11:22 am — Reply

    Even though internet penetration has risen there is little in terms of ‘real’ usage. Kenyans need to learn how to commercialize their activity’s online. Many Kenyans are just happy chatting and ‘facebooking’ when there is much more they could be doing with internet.

  4. Ambrose Olwa
    February 16, 2010 at 5:58 am — Reply

    Moses, i look forward to you sharing the report when you get it. Social media is revolutionising the way kenyans communicate/entertain

    • February 16, 2010 at 8:44 am — Reply

      @Ambrose I got the larger and more detailed summary of the findings. Look out for the details in a couple of days.

  5. February 16, 2010 at 9:16 am — Reply

    This is some good findings, i would love to get hold of the findings, where can I get it?

    • February 16, 2010 at 10:35 am — Reply

      @mark get in touch with Synovate’s office in Nairobi. I believe the full report can be purchased.

  6. March 1, 2010 at 2:15 am — Reply

    hi guys,

    Please see the report here.


    i have been having an issue with most of the findings in that report.

    Especially the fact that “kenya has 2 million facebook users”. as at end of last year, facebook themselves used to publish number of users in each network, kenya had around 90,000 users, and if we estimate that 50% of kenyans not registered on their network, then my estimate is that kenya had approx 150,000 users as at the start of 2009

    Please see this link


    from that report, kenya had 240,000 users as at april 2009.

    Facebook states that they have 400 million users worldwide, hence, it is easily impossible for kenya to have 2 million of those seeing that africa itself has less than 2% of all facebook users worldwide

  7. […] on Synovate’s recent report (the accuracy of which is still in question), Facebook boasts a whooping 2 million users in Kenya. […]

  8. Ivorydancer
    April 9, 2011 at 5:14 am — Reply

    I’ve always wondered how these Synovate guys reach their conclusions…leaves alot to be desired. Everybody on FB has an email address!! Unless they mean people create an address for the sole purpose of registration then stop using it…? Anyway, let’s see the methodology on the full report then the discourse can be done with more info


  9. June 30, 2011 at 3:40 am — Reply

    I’ve seen a another report putting Kenyans on FB are slightly over 1M. I’m not really sure if this is accurate but with mobile phones capability I do think there is a good possibility that a lot of Kenyans are on FB. Anyone knows how many Kenyan are on Twitter?? I’m looking for that figure for a report I’m working on.

  10. valentine Miheso
    September 25, 2011 at 9:43 pm — Reply

    go to this link for objective stats http://www.internetworldstats.com/africa.htm#ke

  11. November 8, 2011 at 5:02 pm — Reply

    Good research.
    With large number of internet usage in Kenya being through mobile phones, i think it is the high time web developers turned focus to mobile applications.
    Big brands like mocality have identified the potential and more tech savvy Kenyans need to come up with more relevant applications.

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