Digital Ecosystem Country Assessment (DECA) Report

Publication Date: September 9, 2020

This report summarizes findings from the DECA pilot in Kenya, which was conducted between November 2019 and April 2020. The DECA outlines the key aspects of the country’s digital ecosystem and provides recommendations for the country’s growing digital connectivity infrastructure.

Kenya hosts a dynamic digital ecosystem and has been a longstanding leader in technology innovation across sub-Saharan Africa. The country’s digital ecosystem continues to rapidly evolve. In upcoming years, Kenya’s information and communications technology (ICT) sector will be challenged to grow inclusively, securely, and in ways that support democratic values.

This report summarizes findings from the DECA pilot in Kenya, which was conducted between November 2019 and April 2020. The pilot combines findings from desk research, consultations with USAID/KEA, data from a nationally representative survey, and two weeks of in-country research. A total of 56 key informant interviews were conducted, representing a range of public and private stakeholders and USAID/KEA technical offices. With a focus on devolution, digital divides, the youth bulge, corruption mitigation, economic growth, and private sector engagement, this report is guided by USAID Kenya Country Development Cooperation Strategy 2020-2025 (CDCS).

The USAID/Kenya 2020-2025 Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS) includes three four development objectives:

  1. Key systems such as health, governance, and markets improved
  2. Resilience of vulnerable populations and environments improved
  3. Economic growth opportunities, especially for young men and young women, catalyzed
  4. Kenya’s regional opportunities leveraged and external risks mitigated

Pillar 1: Digital Infrastructure and Adoption

  • Despite Kenya’s high mobile coverage rates, people living in rural areas typically lack access to fast, reliable coverage. While multiple providers often service urban or peri-urban population centers, rural areas are generally served by a single fiber provider, if they are served at all.
  • While several private sector-oriented interviewees noted that the cost of data is steadily decreasing, other stakeholders continue to identify affordability as a key issue inhibiting Internet access and use in Kenya.
  • Several interviewees noted that some Kenyans–particularly people in rural areas, older people, and women–may not use the Internet because there is little digital content available that they perceive to be relevant to their daily lives.
  • Especially in rural areas, women and girls may not feel comfortable or confident, or that it is socially acceptable to use technology.
  • These norms also affect women’s behavior and engagement with digital devices. In a recent GSMA survey, respondents were asked questions about how they used their mobile phones, ranging from simple functions to more advanced functions. On average, men in Kenya mentioned using six functions (of a possible ten) for their mobile phones, while women used only four.

Pillar 2: Digital Society, Rights, and Governance

  • Identity information is shared for SIM registration; M-Pesa users are routinely sharing personal and financial transactions data with Safaricom; increasing numbers of Kenyans are sharing information about themselves on social media; and personally identifiable information is shared at nearly every business entrance. With Kenyan’s online presence growing, the volume of personal and sensitive information flowing across government databases, social media accounts, and financial institutions’ digital platforms has increased, and so has its vulnerability.
  • A recent online survey of 600 Kenyans showed that over 80 percent of respondents believe that they often or sometimes see online news stories about politics and government that are made up. Limitations on online expression can create conditions in which misinformation goes unquestioned, and it is easier to censor content that those in power dislike.
  • Concerns exist that legislation framed as protecting individuals could be used to silence bloggers and online activists–in particular the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act, which criminalizes acts of false information,and hate speech, with little definition of what qualifies.

Pillar 3: Digital Economy

  • The Government of Kenya means to grow Kenya’s economic base and increase international trade, the landscape is currently dominated by one large player–Safaricom–rather than a diverse group of commercial and social enterprises.
  • Many actors in Kenya’s digital marketplace have been challenged by “policy shocks”–the rapid introduction of policy changes. As one interviewee noted, Kenya’s 2016 interest rate cap constrained the ability of digital entrepreneurs to access credit from traditional lenders, which is especially critical for a sector with high upfront capital requirement.
  • Local investors appear to prefer investing in more traditional sectors with tangible assets, like real estate,
  • Other interviewees noted that investors seem to like investing in companies founded by foreigners or investing in startups that target middle or upper income market segments. In the absence of change, investors may pass by opportunities to invest in local startups that serve those with low income and limited access, who comprise the majority of Kenya’s population.

mAccess Indicators & Rankings

The information below is part of the mAccess Diagnostic Tool and is intended to help assess foundational components of Kenya’s digital ecosystem using indicators on internet availability, affordability, access, and use. Click here to explore the full tool.

Country Snapshot – Kenya

  • 2G Coverage:


  • 3G Coverage:


  • Cost per SMS in USD for 10,000 bulk SMS:


  • EIU Rank:


  • ITU IDI Rank:


  • Number of Internet Exchange Points (IXPs):


  • Living 2G Coverage ( in million ):


  • Living 3G Coverage ( in million ):


  • No of MBBC:


  • Not using Mobile Internet 2G Coverage:


  • Number of active mobile money agents:


  • Number of active mobile money users:


  • Smartphones 3G Coverage:


  • WEF Rank:


Access – Kenya

  • Land-lines per 100 inhabitants:


  • Mobile broadband connections per 100 inhabitants:


  • Mobile internet users per 100 inhabitants:


  • Active SIM cards per 100 inhabitants:


Affordability – Kenya

  • Mobile prepaid 1GB basket:


  • Moblie Prepaid 1GB basket – largest operator:


  • Mobile prepaid voice basket – largest operator:


  • Effective price:


  • GB per GDPC:


  • Mobile prepaid voice basket:


Competition – Kenya

  • Market concentration:


  • Interconnection: Mobile Termination Rates:


  • Highest MNO EBITDA Margin in country:


  • Mobile-specific taxes / TCMO:


  • Number of Mobile Operators:


  • Market share of largest mobile operators:


Infrastructure – Kenya

  • International bandwidth per user:


  • Connections per Base stations:


  • Population covered by 3G signal:


  • Population covered by 4G signal:


  • Country level investment per subscriber:


Usage – Kenya

  • Average revenue per user (Blended ARPU):


  • Facebook users per 100 inhabitants:


  • Mobile Data traffic per active SIM:


  • M2M connections per 100 inhabitants:


  • Minutes of Use per active SIM:


Digital Ecosystem Evidence Map

The information below is part of the Digital Ecosystem Evidence Map (DEEM) and displays up-to-date resources on digital development interventions and the digital ecosystem for Kenya. Click here to explore the full tool.

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