Small Enterprise

Half of Kenyan businesses in the dark for ignoring Internet

PHOTO | BD GRAPHIC
PHOTO | BD GRAPHIC 

Internet usage among Kenyan businesses is at an all-time high but fresh data shows that most of them are under-using the resource— with the most popular use among local firms is sending e-mails.

The newly released Kenya Enterprise ICT Survey 2016 also shows that Internet usage among Kenyan businesses remains relatively unsophisticated.

Nearly half of all businesses do not have a website. Those who do have a web presence, neglect them and offer basic functionalities to customers.

Indeed a worrying 75 per cent businesses go at least a month without updating their websites, ending up not extracting the full value of this resource.

“Frequently updated websites are more likely to rank high in search engine results and hence visibility of an enterprises product or service is more noticeable,” the report noted.

Online marketing is popular. However, businesses struggle to buy and sell over the Internet. Despite recognising the advantages of e-commerce, such as reduced costs, only 39 per cent of surveyed businesses were buying or selling goods online.

“E-commerce offers potential benefits to enterprises in the form of enhanced participation in international value chains, increased market access and reach,” the report points out.

Smaller businesses with less access to capital probably have the most to gain from e-commerce. However, they were the worst performers in this indicator.

Part of the barriers that businesses cited for failing to adopt e-commerce was a perception that their products would not sell very well online. 24.4 per cent also said that they did not think there was enough demand for online purchase of goods.

Small businesses also performed poorly in the adoption of cloud computing with over 77 per cent of them indicating that they did not use these services. This, again, is ironic because these businesses have less capital to expend on computer infrastructure relative to larger operations and therefore stand to gain the most from the cloud.

There is one area where businesses are performing very well online, with 92.7 per cent of surveyed firms saying they used e-government services, mostly to file their tax returns and to carry out research.

The high demand for e-government services belies a reality in which only 43.4 per cent of state institutions offer these services.