New Release: The Status of ICT Infrastructure, Innovative Environment and ICT4AG Services in Agriculture, Food and Nutrition in Kenya

  • 25th March 2020
  • by secretary

This report provides an assessment of the ICT infrastructure, the enabling regulatory framework and the state of deployment of ICT services in agriculture by various service providers in Kenya. On infrastructure, Kenya is served by the East African Submarine Cable System (EASSy), the East African Marine System (TEAMS), the Lower Indian Ocean Network 2 (Lion II) and Seacom cables. The cables provide high speed internet connectivity ranging from 193 to 2,840 gigabytes per second (GBPS) and comprises a bundle of glass threads each of which is capable of transmitting messages modulated into light waves. On land, the country is served by six major terrestrial broadband providers, namely: Safaricom, Liquid Telecoms, Internet Services (IS), Telkom Kenya, Jamii Telecom and Wananchi Online. Safaricom has the highest coverage and is closely followed by Liquid Telcoms and Telkom. In addition, Kenya has a National Optic Fibre Backbone Initiative (NOFBI) which is a joint venture between Kenya and Chinese governments, with the aim of connecting all national and county government agencies.  There are five major operators, Safaricom PLC, with a market share of 64.2%, followed by Airtel, with a 22.3%, Telkom Kenya Limited, Finserve Africa Limited and Mobile Pay Limited at 9.0%, 4.2% and 0.2%, respectively. A report released by the International Data Corporation (IDC) indicated that as at 2017, Kenya mobile subscription surpassed 40 million, with 90.4% mobile penetration of the adult population. Despite this impressive mobile penetration, internet penetration was less than 10%. Conversely, there is a big disparity in regional access to computers in Kenya, with Nairobi residents having the highest access, while North Eastern, Western and Coast have the least access. These ICT end user devices and their applications are mostly driven by off-grid and on-grid electric power; users’ habits, preferences and trends are the key drivers in the choice of use, with SMS, email, social media, browsing and direct call being the major uses. 
The journey of Kenya’s ICT sector liberalization had several setbacks owing to the stringent conditions set by the regulator; but through advocacy and legislation, the sector was liberalized. Within a short period, the government has become a key facilitator and advocate of the use of ICT through creation of a state department of ICT and the rolling out of various initiatives, such as e-government, Konza city NOFBI, and open data. Improvements in the regulatory framework, capacity building of the young generation, establishment of the various incubation hubs, such as i-hub, Nailab, and others have led to the emergence and development of useful ICT systems, such as mobile applications and prototypes. However, to sustain the gains made in the ICT environment, the current support provided by the government to the ICT sector will need to be doubled. Moreover, for seamless operations, the array of players that include network operators, software developers, content providers, device manufacturers, government agencies and users have to work closely together. It is also apparent that sectors such as agriculture, health and manufacturing need to grow to the same level as the financial sector. This will only be possible if the requisite enabling environment is developed and maintained.  Various ICT4Ag service providers have been active in the Kenya mobile application (M-apps) environment. A total of 68 service providers were identified and analysed to understand how they work. The providers were grouped into seven clusters; the information-providing cluster had the highest number of m-apps, which implied the need to remove the information asymmetries in the agricultural sector, particularly in the rural areas.