Mobile Usage at th...

Mobile Usage at the Base of the Pyramid in Kenya

With 6 billion mobile phones around the world, of which 75% in developing countries, telephones reach most corners of the African continent. Mobile phones have improved the lives of the poor. Two new infoDev-led studies, focusing on South Africa and Kenya, provide insights on how useful mobile phones are for economic and social empowerment of people living of less than $2.50 a day.

The Kenya as well as the South Africa case studies are part of a large, multi-country research commissioned by infoDev about the use of mobile phones at the Base of the Pyramid (BOP), the poorest people around the world. The research program is supported by UKaid, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Government of Finland and SIDA (Sweden).

The Kenya study carried out by iHub Research and Research Solutions Africa among 800 mobile users in six locations across the country, found that at least 20 per cent of respondents felt it was necessary to make real sacrifices to recharge their mobile credit. What's new about this research (based on detailed questionnaires, focus groups, and diaries) is that it puts an estimated figure on the value of the sacrifice that base of the pyramid users are willing to make in foregoing other activities, at an average of around 72 Kenyan shillings per week (around 84 US cents).  In the majority of cases (>80 per cent), that meant buying less food, at least once a week. New clothes, bus fares, utility bills and even soap were sometimes sacrificed to sustain the all-powerful mobile phone.

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