OPINION: The Rise of Digital Media in Kenya

The Rise OF Digital Media In Kenya Opinion Piece Jenn Birch JUUCHINI Rosenfeld Media via Flickr Creative Commons

In a world where technological advances are constantly taking over the traditional means of media and communication, it is most likely that the ubiquity of mobile technology will tremendously change the business landscape. People from all parts of the globe are using their cell phones for a variety of reasons especially for messaging and taking pictures. The use of a mobile device has been integrated into our daily lives. Mobile technology has become omnipresent in many nations and is constantly changing economic life in parts of Africa, where there is a strong following in mobile money. In Kenya alone, 68% of mobile users utilize their mobile devices for making or receiving payments.

People around the globe are currently switching to digital means when it comes to all sorts of traditional transactions including banking, marketing, advertising among others. This is mostly due to the internet having displaced other forms of media and communication. In fact, even print publications are expected to be obsolete “sometime in the future,” as The New York Times noted, with the increase readership from mobile devices. Hence, there’s no doubt that digital is slowly taking over conventional media platforms.

Shifting from Traditional Media to Digital Media

While some countries haven’t fully adopted modern technology in their daily activities, it’s relatively obvious that everything is drastically changing now. A study presented by the Business Times, reported that most industries are getting high demand in the developing of mobile- and tech-enabled services, due to the increasing number of modern tech users. The report stated that during the end of 2013 there were 3.4 billion unique mobile subscribers globally. By 2020, the developing world will produce more mobile users and reach the 880 million mark. Furthermore, mobile broadband connectivity is currently at 2.4 billion worldwide with industry experts predicting this is set to double to approximately 4.1 billion by 2020.

Unparalleled Opportunities For Digital Entrepreneurship

Kenya is considered as one of those countries with emerging economies. Currently, they are now starting to create opportunities for digital entrepreneurship. In fact, they had reached a giant leap through the migration from analogue to digital broadcasting.

While traditional media is still prominent, companies are starting to incorporate digital into their marketing process through the aid of mobile-enabled services and products through smartphones and tablets. In a comprehensive study conducted by Havas Media, research pointed out that 20% of a marketing company’s campaign budget is dedicated to online videos, increasing the coverage of the campaign by 5% in comparison to campaigns that solely use 100% traditional media.

With these figures, it is most likely that there will be an immense demand for big computing devices with big screens in Kenya, specifically in those that allow you to get online wherever you are regardless of the internet connection. Apart from Wi-Fi only devices, there are also tablets that can connect with the use of mobile data connection, such as the new iPad Air 2 and Mini 3, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Sony Xperia Z2 as listed on the tablet page of O2. With these new developments, we are now more able to connect, work, and gather information online.

Emerging Digital Media startups in Kenya

As digital media constantly demonstrates an effective campaign to various industries and businesses alike, startups are starting to maximize their usefulness and cost-efficiency as well. According to a well-researched GSMA study, entitled “Digital Entrepreneurship in Kenya 2014”, there have been many success stories in Kenya including Craft Silicon (mobile and banking software company with 200 clients in 40 countries), Wananchi Online (ISP and internet phone company), Ushahidi (crowdsourced platform for activity mapping), Bridge International (mlearning), and Kopo Kopo (mobile payment platform). Even though there is an opportunity for digital media to thrive in Kenya, only a small number of investors want to venture into business with startups at their early stages, as most of them still would rather collaborate with established startups. Given that, a lot of efforts are also needed to promote affiliations for customer acquisition and distribution.

Nonetheless, Kenya has already made giant steps and has shown great potential in possibly becoming one of the leading hub for digital entrepreneurship. Without a doubt, the mobile and tablet industry would continue to prosper in the country in the coming years.

Article by Jenn Birch.

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