Kenya’s Latest 2016 Mobile & Internet Statistics

This has been something of an interesting week in terms of data-driven statistics as far as mobile, internet and mobile money is concerned in Kenya. Earlier this week I attended a Google breakfast event where they shared their latest numbers from their Consumer Barometer surveys. In addition, yesterday, the Communications Authority sent me their latest sector statistics for the period April to June 2o16. In a nutshell, this is a week of lots of technology data insights for Kenya which is like oxygen for a data freak like me! So, here we go with the latest mobile and Internet statistics for Kenya circa September 2016:

Mobile Penetration In Kenya Is Now Over 90% 

According to the latest sector statistics from the Communications Authority, Kenya now has over 90% mobile penetration. In the period April to June 2016, mobile subscriptions reached 39.7 million up from 38.3 million subscriptions recorded last quarter. This translates to an increase of 3.7 percent or 1.4 million new mobile subscriptions during the quarter. Not. Bad!

Smartphone Uptake In Kenya Is Now at 44% 

According to Google’s Consumer Barometer, smartphone uptake in Kenya is now at 44% in 2016. This is a massive jump from 2014 when smartphone uptake was measured in the same survey as being only 27%. This suggests inexpensive smartphones that are now going for as little as Kes. 3,000.00 are clearly driving a massive shift from feature phones which used to be the dominant mobile device in Kenya.

Mobile Money Uptake In Kenya Keeps Blowing Up

The latest numbers from the Communications Authority for the period April to June 2016 indicate that there are now 26.3 million mobile money subscribers in Kenya. At the same time, a total of 227.3 million mobile commerce transactions were made which translated to Kes. 404.1 billion in terms of purchases made. The person to person mobile money transfers recorded in the period was valued at Kes. 429.4 billion. Numbers like this give credence to the fact that Kenya is the global leader when it comes to mobile money!

Surprisingly, SMS Is (Still?) Alive, Well and Growing In Kenya

In a world hooked on Over The Top (OTT) Instant Messaging services such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger its easy to assume that SMS is essentially dead and buried? This is not the case according to the sector statistics from Communications Authority. Indeed SMS sent during the quarter increased significantly to 11.6 billion messages from 6.5 billion registered last quarter. This is MASSIVE! This growth came from the ‘Create Your Plan Bundles’ SMS tariff that was introduced by Safaricom during the period under review. This tariff lets Safaricom customers send as many as 50 messages per day for only Kes. 10.00.

Internet Subscriptions Are Still Growing Massively In Kenya!

According to the Communications Authority sector statistics, Internet subscriptions grew by 8.2% to 26.8 million during the quarter under review up from 24.8 million subscriptions recorded last quarter. This represents an increase of 35% compared to the 19.9 million subscriptions reported during the previous year. The estimated number of Internet users in Kenya grew from 37.4 million posted last quarter to 37.7 million users during the period under review. In a nutshell, more and more Kenyans are getting online and probably via inexpensive smartphones.

Broadband Internet Subscriptions Are Really Taking Off In Kenya!

According to the Communications Authority Sector Statistics, The number of broadband subscriptions in Kenya increased remarkably by 36.7% per cent during the quarter to reach 10.8 million subscriptions up from 7.9 million subscriptions recorded in the preceding quarter resulting in broadband penetration of 24.5%. This means that over a quarter of Kenyans now connect to the Internet on 3G connections or better. In addition, this massive jump in uptake is most probably being driven by affordable smartphones coupled with increased broadband access nationwide not to mention increasingly more affordable mobile data charges.

Kenyans Use Social Media, Search, Email & Video Most On Smartphones

According to Google’s Consumer Barometer it is social media, search, email and video that are most popular activities by smartphone users in Kenya on a weekly basis. Social media dominates with 58% followed by search engines at 39%. Behind search engines is email at 30% followed by video at 25% which is remarkable given how bandwidth and data bundle intensive video can be. Indeed, off the record, a Google representative told me that Kenyans watch more video than Nigerians by a factor of 4 to 1 on YouTube! We do love video in Kenya and thats saying something to brands and businesses in terms of investing in video production for digital marketing.

Kenya Has Approximately 22 million Internet Users For A Penetration Of 49% 

According to Google’s Consumer Barometer Kenya now has 22 million Internet users which is an increase of 4% over the last 2 years. This seems like a modest level of growth and deviates somewhat from the Communications Authority’s latest sector statistics which I suspect could possibly overstated? The main difference seems to be that the Communications Authority tracks Internet subscriptions whereas Google tracks actual unique users, hence the variance. That being said, either way, it looks like almost 50% of Kenya’s population is now online and these are mostly mobile-first (and only?) Internet users.


Previous post

Social Media Week Independent Nairobi 2016 Is Almost Here!

Next post

Facebook's Messenger Lite Android Mobile App Launches First In Kenya


  1. March 17, 2017 at 2:04 pm — Reply

    […] and data. I feel like i want to visualize this data. I just might. I also came across this informative post that you need to look at. Do you know where i can get more […]

  2. March 20, 2017 at 9:46 am — Reply

    Thanks for these stats!

  3. Lilian
    April 12, 2017 at 11:14 am — Reply

    Thanks so much for this post. Very useful for my online startup.
    On a different note I would really love to meet with you for networking. Do you normally organise meetup sessions with entrepreneurs?

    • April 13, 2017 at 5:48 pm — Reply

      @lilian Your welcome. we can meet. Drop me an email and we can lock it down.

  4. Kirori
    May 31, 2017 at 2:17 pm — Reply

    Thought provoking stats. SMS bundles to deter OTT Apps. On the vids, while we do 1 to 4 vs Nigeria, the content origin in my estimation is 4 to 1 for Nigeria vs Kenya, No?

  5. […] This article writes a bit about other internet usage trends, though mobile companies have cottoned on to the idea that, with data still being expensive, the way for them to grow their user base is to design apps that work with with less intense data downloads. […]

  6. […] to information released by Safaricom, there are over 7.8 million smart phones in the country with an uptake level of over 44%.  61% of  internet access in Kenya is mainly via smart phones. According to Google Consumer […]

  7. nelly.
    August 30, 2017 at 1:38 pm — Reply

    what are the current stats on 2017 android fon usage.. in kenya, is it possible to access such information per county. am sure nairobi would be different from isiolo etc….

    • September 20, 2017 at 10:14 pm — Reply

      @nelly thanks for your comment. I do not have the latest stats but I am sure the numbers are still rising given that we have Kes. 3,000.00 Android smartphones in Kenya.

  8. Alex Mbaka
    October 1, 2017 at 11:29 am — Reply

    @ Moses Kemibaro belated congratulation for a well articulated Article. Will definitely be on the look out for your future articles.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.