BY AMIN NIANG
This must be this week’s revelation in Kenya; it is said that the country’s real mobile penetration rate is much lower than the proclaimed number of 78%. The rate actually comes closer to 35%.
The news was broken out by a pressure group that is composed of key mobile players such as network providers and cellphone sellers. The group reacted after the release of a report by Communications Commission of Kenya, as it claimed that the number announced by the state institution was wrongly assessed given that many users have multiple activated SIM cards and that the CCK based its research on that.
“The mobile phone now serves as the PC (personal computer) for many people...if you clean up the multiple sim-cards and the multiple devices that one user holds, the real penetration is between 31 to 35 per cent,” said Nokia’s Vice President for the Indian, Middle-East and African branches, Jussi HINKKANEN.
The real issue comes from elsewhere. With this penetration rate, the Kenyan government would like to add a 16% tax on all mobile devices, which HINKKANEN’s group is trying to avoid.
According to Tony OMSWANSA from the University of Nairobi, this tax will directly impact the cost of mobile devices which in turn will affect people with small revenues and their use of services such as Mpesa. He also added that developers seeking to create businesses in the domain would be deeply affected.