Has OLX changed Internet use in Kenya? Yes? No?
I don’t know.
But one thing I know is that OLX has added to the type of information Kenyans have online; information on prices of house commodities, rentals, cars, and others have become available at consumers fingerprints.
Take for example the information on apartments available for short term and household rentals. A friend of mine was debating me that if I don’t have an average of Kshs 35,000, I cannot hire an apartment house for a day’s self service. But when I went to OLX I was surprised that even with Kshs 2000, a price more than ten times lower than my friend’s average figure, I can have an apartment house for services like free dstv with good and ample basement parking.
Many Kenyans, have opted to use OLX to get similar information. OLX is not a platform where only second hand house hold goods are sold but business men and women have resorted to also list the items they have in their stores in the website. In this way, Kenyans have been given power to deduce the correct pricing of different items on offer.
As many Kenyans opt to search for price information online and specifically on OLX, the Internet usage by them has increased to a new high. Before OLX changed the game in online market places and even e-commerce, Kenyans could only stay online to chat with strangers or friends on social media on dating sites, porn sites, and probably read a bit of news and gossip. I remember there was a year when Kenya, despite being one of the lowest countries in the world in terms of Internet penetration and access, was ranked number 13 in access to pornographic content.
OLX and other useful websites have however managed to change the equation with Kenyans today being renowned for accessing not only the dating, pornographic and related contents but also venturing into online businesses, practical solutions ranging from learning some sporting activities and re-inventing the wheel in some innovative pursuits.
Judging from the number of listings on OLX across the major towns in Kenya, Kenyans have indeed embraced online businesses across board. In Nairobi for instance there are over half a million listings (and counting) distantly followed by Mombasa that stand at around 10% of Nairobi listings. Nakuru come in third at over 20 thousand listings and Kisumu follows at slightly over 10 thousand listings.
Although the listings outside Nairobi are not as significantly high, probably due to low internet access in the other regions, Kenyans in these other parts of the country are equally as concerned about information related to prices of goods/services and even jobs that they can obtain from OLX and similar sites.
There was a time I put up an ad on both OLX and BrighterMonday about a job opportunity in my startup. The response was overwhelming but amazingly over 75% of the response came from regions outside Nairobi. I was surprised to receive applications as far as Wajir and Turkana, meaning even a few in these remote places of Kenya can at least access the Internet thanks to the numerous informercials OLX has been running on TVs, Radios, Posters and Papers.