Kenya accounted for 61 per cent of new personal computer purchases in East Africa between January and March, racing ahead of total continental growth which nearly stagnated at three per cent.
Kenyans bought an estimated 90,000 new personal computers (PCs) in the first quarter, out of a total 147,699 pieces imported in the region including shipments by Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda.
The high uptake of PCs in Kenya was in contrast to the worldwide PC market that contracted by 3.2 per cent and the African market that recorded an overall increase of 36,941 pieces, says a report by market research company IDC.
The report on global shipment of PCs was released on Monday. IDC attributes the regional growth this quarter from the previous to high demand for netbooks , especially in Kenya.
Partnerships between vendors such as Samsung, Acer and mobile phone firms such as Safaricom and Telkom’s Kenya Orange have boosted the growth.
The government through the Kenya ICT board has also been equipping the Universities students with laptops through the Wezesha programme. This growth has helped to stymie unofficial (gray market) shipments.
IDC analyst Stanley Kamanguya says this quarter was a continuation of the dynamic development in 2010, supported by the resumption of commercial demand and strong advertising and promotion efforts by vendors, as well as their efforts to find new distribution channels and strengthen existing ones.
“The growth in Q1 2011 was fueled primarily by a healthy demand for notebooks, with Kenya showing the highest uptake.
“We are continuing to see increased interest in the region from international investors, especially with Kenya’s new Constitution, which is hoped to be fully implemented after the next general election, Uganda’s oil discovery, and the formation of the East African Community (EAC) market, which has a combined population of over 130 million.”
Going forward, vendors will not rely on pricing or hardware specifications for a competitive edge, but rather on their ability to engage in demand-creation programmes, mobilise channels, and articulate a message that their products will provide an unmatched user experience notes the research firm
Netbooks are small laptops used primarily for email and Internet access. They are generally cheaper than regular laptops and much lighter.