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.
(2000 to 2009)
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
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
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.
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
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”