EAC Common Market..Internet use key stats

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And now we are all United East Africa Community, great. East Africa Community common market became operational on 1st of July 2010 after many years of negotiations and sideshows.  Let not care about that and go straight to what it  means to entrepreneurs in the region and in particular people trying to do internet business. The following are the stats about internet use in the Five member states between 2000 and 2009.

Country Population Internet Users

(Dec 2000)

Internet Users

(Dec 2009)

Penetration

% Population

User Growth

(2000 to 2009)

Burundi 9,511,330 3,000 65,000 0.7% 2066.7%
Kenya 39,002,772 200,000 3,359,600 8.6% 1579.8%
Rwanda 10,746,311 5,000 300,000 2.8% 5900%
Tanzania 41,048,532 115,000 520,000 1.3% 352.2%
Uganda 32,369,558 40,000 2,500,000 7.7% 6150%
Total 132,678,503 363,000 6744,600 5.08% 1758.0

Yeah the numbers and the web access penetration is not that great, probably the reason why doing internet business in the region is still a tough nut to crack. But the bigger point is hidden on the growth pattern and the total population size

Population

Strength here is in the unity,  a combined force of 130 million people is not a joke.  It is significant market with great potential.  Even before the coming of the common market the internet through social media had already made the whole of Africa a common market.  And that makes me think that the  physical boundaries separating countries in the world might not be necessary in the future. How great will the borderless world be? For now the foundations are being constructed . Seen Kenyans exchanging ideas with people in Ghana, Naigeria, South Africa, Rwanda. Kenyans doing online work for people in US, Europe, Japan, yeah they call it outsourcing

User Growth

This is the main reason why people should be excited. The growth rate over ten years is huge. Remember this was before the coming of fiber optic cables in the region.   There were only 40,000 internet users in Uganda in 2000, ten years later there ware 2,500, 000 internet users ..6515 % growth rate. There were 200,000 internet users in Kenya, ten years later, the number stood at 3,359,600. Those numbers at the moment are definitely much higher than what they were  in Dec 2009.

That exceptional growth was  achieved despite the high cost of accessing the internet at the time. But now things are changing. As the competitions among ISPs in one side and among the fiber optic cables companies on the other side take centre stage, cost of accessing the internet is expected to fall further.

Penetration

Kenya has the highest penetration rate of 8.6 % of the population, followed by Uganda at 7.7%. Huge opportunity here, the penetration is slowed by among others the cost, gadgets and even the electricity.  The key..mobile phones. People even in the very remote areas now have mobile phones and that is why web access through mobile phones is exploding. The following are the mobile phone subscription stats in the region

Mobile phones
Country Subscribers
Kenya 18.5 million
Rwanda 2 million
Tanzania 17.3 million
Uganda 11.8 Million
Burundi 480,000

The common market protocol provides the following freedoms and rights for citizens of the 5 member states:

  • Free movement of goods
  • Free movement of persons
  • Free movement of workers
  • Free movement of services
  • Free movement of capital and
  • The right of establishment and residence.

Google in the mix

Google joined in marking  the beginning of East Africa Community common market by their logo message “Umoja ni nguvu, utengano ni udhaifu”

Google

Google

What is your opinion on the topic?
Kennedy Kachwanya
Lead Blogger at Kachwanya.com
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Kennedy Kachwanya is a technology blogger interested in mobile phones both smart and dumb, mobile apps, mobile money, social media, startups ecosystem and digital Savannah. New media must not forget the strength of old tech.
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