Kenya and Tanzania’s mobile broadband penetration trails Uganda, which has the highest infiltration rate of cellular Internet in the East African Community (EAC) bloc, new data shows.
Statistics by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) show Uganda had a mobile internet penetration of 46.88 per cent as of June 2021 beating Kenya’s 46.76 per cent.
South Sudan trailed the six countries, Burundi had the second lowest mobile Internet penetration rate of just 10.96 per cent while Rwanda and Tanzania had penetrations of 42.84 per cent and 14.31 per cent respectively.
“Uganda is ahead of the six states in mobile broadband penetration while South Sudan is the lowest in terms of mobile cellular telephony, Internet, and broadband penetrations,” said the CA.
This comes despite Kenya by far beating other EAC countries in mobile cellular telephony penetration.
Mobile phone penetration stood at 114 per cent in Kenya during that period compared to just 61 per cent in Uganda, 86 per cent in Tanzania, and 82 per cent in Rwanda.
But Kenya’s lower mobile broadband penetration compared to Uganda’s despite its higher mobile phone penetration could signal that Kenya’s unit mobile Internet costs are higher than Uganda’s, derailing uptake of mobile broadband services.
Lower population density
Further, Kenya has a lower population density, especially in the expansive arid regions where there is little to no Internet coverage compared to Uganda.
For instance, while the 3G and 4G networks have become the dominant broadband network technologies in Kenya, they cumulatively cover just 56.3 per cent of the country’s geographical area.
This comes as developed countries continue to beat developing countries in terms of growth of mobile broadband subscriptions due to wider access to internet-enabled mobile devices in rich countries.
“In the year 2020, the penetration rates for mobile broadband in developed countries stood at 125.2 per cent up from 123.9 recorded in 2019, while developing countries penetration was recorded at 65.1 per cent up from 64.3 in 2019,” it said.
Mobile Internet, however, continues to beat fixed broadband and fixed wireless services in Kenya.
For instance, while the total number of broadband subscriptions rose to 27.5 million from 22.7 million in the year to June 2021, 26.75 million of these were mobile Internet subscriptions.
This is as just 618,000 were fixed broadband subscriptions while 105,000 were fixed wireless broadband subscriptions.