Smartphone sales in Kenya will overtake those of feature handsets by the end of this year, a new report shows, making it possible to rapidly develop and use digital applications.
The research conducted by the leading data and analytics company GlobalData Mobile Broadband Forecast, also reveals that by the end of 2022, more than 80 per cent — translating to 31 million — of total handsets in Kenya will be smartphones.
This growth is driven by an increasing number of low-priced smartphones sold for as low as Sh3,500 such as the Android-powered Neon Kicka, which has 3G Internet.
“This increase in smartphone numbers matters as Kenya is also home to some of the continent’s most innovative software developers, recently earning its capital the nickname Silicon Savannah,” said GlobalData London-based analyst of the Africa and Middle East region, Simon Andersson.
He said the number of active smartphone subscriptions in the country would touch the 20.1 million mark by the end of the year, signifying a 16 per cent increase from last year.
This means that a large number of smartphone users in Kenya would spur development of home-grown digital solutions in form of applications like M-Pesa and mobile solar power solution M-Kopa.
The continued increase in smartphone users has been made possible by the presence of 4G/ Long Term Evolution (LTE) network expansions and upgrades by Safaricom and Telkom Kenya and proposed 4G/LTE rollout by Airtel Kenya.
The 4G network delivers up to five times faster Internet speeds than any other data service placing Kenya among countries with the fast Internet globally.
“The DARE submarine cable, expected to be completed by quarter two of 2018, will more than double Kenya’s international Internet capacity and is likely to spur the fixed market,” said Mr Andersson.
The GlobalData also shows that mobile penetration will grow from about 82.5 per cent in 2017 to 93.9 per cent by 2022.
This, the report says, will be mainly driven by strong growth in mobile data subscriptions due to increasing availability of low-cost smartphones and mobile data services, particularly affordable data bundles offered by operators.