The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) recently released the Economic Survey 2022, detailing how various sectors and job markets performed and offered insight into the post Covid-19 recovery. Kenya’s economy rebounded in 2021 compared to 2020, with most sectors recording significant improvement. According to the Survey, the value of ICT output increased by 6.9 per cent from KES 529.8 billion in 2020 to KES 566.3 billion in 2021.
The COVID-19 crisis accelerated digital connectivity as the markets sought alternative means of procuring goods and services. Consumers and businesses opted for online channels resulting in faster growth of the ICT sector.
We highlight the performance of the various ICT sub-sectors as reported in the Economic Survey 2022.
Mobile network services
Mobile subscriptions increased by 6.0 per cent to 65.1 million in 2021 compared to a 12.6 per cent growth registered in 2020. Conversely, the Mobile Numbers Ported (MNPs) decreased by 24.8 per cent to 1,081 in 2021, partly attributed to hesitation by subscribers to move from one operator to another.
The number of mobile money subscribers increased by 8.5 per cent to 35.2 million in 2021 compared to an increase of 12.0 per cent recorded in 2020. In addition, the total amount of mobile money transfers grew by 31.7 per cent to stand at KES 6.9 trillion in 2021.
The number of mobile money transfer agents continued to grow over the last five years, with the total number at 292,301 in 2021. Similarly, the total deposits through the agents grew from KES 2.1 trillion in 2017 to KES 4.6 trillion in 2021.
Voice call traffic
Total domestic traffic, predominantly mobile to mobile traffic, increased by 32.8 percent from 60.3 billion minutes in 2020 to 80.0 billion minutes in 2021.
International outgoing calls rose by 11.7 percent to 549.9 million minutes in 2021. Conversely, the total international incoming calls decreased for the second consecutive year from 532 million minutes in 2020 to 487.3 million minutes in 2021. According to KNBS, the decline is attributed to expensive international tariffs for incoming calls to Kenya and, therefore, the preference for those calling from abroad to prefer other methods such as the instant messaging apps and VOIP.
The total domestic SMS sent declined by 37.2 per cent to 42.8 billion in 2021 compared to an increase of 4.3 per cent registered in 2020. The decline was partly attributed to the few promotional messages offered by the service providers and the ever-growing usage of instant messaging applications in the review period.
In 2021, the number of ISPs rose by 14.8 percent to 420. Total fixed-wired internet subscriptions increased by 16.1 per cent to 672,672, with fibre optic growing by 19.4 per cent to 477,962 in 2021.
The bandwidth capacity increased by 34.6 per cent to 10.9 million Mbps in 2021 compared to a 29.5 per cent growth recorded in 2020. This increase in capacity enhanced the networks with resilience and redundancy to handle the sudden surges and new patterns in internet traffic.
According to data sourced from the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), subscriptions for Fibre to the Home (FttH), which has the largest share of the total fixed broadband at 61.0 percent, increased by 20.7 percent to 410,672 in 2021. Similarly, Fibre to the Office (FttO) subscriptions increased by 11.8 percent to 67,198 in 2021.
Installation fees for businesses and residential telephone services increased from KES 5,496 in 2020 to KES 5,694 in 2021, owing to increased taxes on these services.
The average price of on-net calls increased by 13.8 per cent to KES 3.22, while off-net calls increased by 24.4 per cent to KES 3.82 in 2021.
The average price of a message via SMS increased by 7.3 percent to KES 1.18 in the same period.
Registered Kenyan domains
For the first time in five years, the number of registered Kenyan domains decreased from 101,123 in 2020 to 94,526 in 2021. The decline was partly attributed to users preferring to use international domains such as dot com, which led to fewer subscribers renewing their domain subscriptions.
Domain renewal fees declined by 39.7 per cent to KES 700 in 2021.
Media Frequencies and Mobile Transceivers
TV frequencies increased from 330 in 2020 to 342 in 2021. Radio FM frequencies declined by 5.0 per cent to 953 in 2021.
The total number of digital subscribers continued to increase for the third consecutive year, from 5.5 million in 2020 to 6.0 million in 2021.
Employment, Investment and Revenue
The number of telecommunication sector employees increased by 5.0 per cent to 9,163. This number has been steadily growing over the last five years. The employees include those from Mobile network operators (MNOs) and Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs).
On the other hand, the number of individuals employed by internet service providers increased by 9.5 per cent to 12,395 in 2021. The increase was primarily driven by the demand for ICT services and the rise in Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
The value of investment by telecommunication operators went up by 28.9 per cent to KES 45.9 million, while that of ISPs grew by 18.5 per cent to KES 3.2 billion in 2021.
Revenue earned by telecommunication operators grew marginally from KES 300.9 billion in 2020 to KES 301.0 billion in 2021.
International trade in ICT equipment
The total value of ICT exports went up by 14.3 per cent from KES 1.4 billion in 2020 to KES 1.6 billion in 2021, with monitors, projectors, and reception apparatus for television making up most of the increment.
Total ICT imports have been decreasing for the last three years and declined further by 9.4 per cent to KES 48.3 billion in 2021. Significant declines in imports were recorded for telecommunication equipment, monitors, projectors, and reception apparatus for television.
Total cyber threats more than doubled from 139.9 million in 2020 to 339.1 million in 2021. Out of the cyber threats reported, system vulnerabilities had the highest increment, from 114,675 in 2020 to 58.0 million in 2021. This has been attributed to cyber threat actors such as hacktivists, state-sponsored groups, organised cybercriminals, and cyber terrorists who mainly targeted healthcare systems, utility providers, public infrastructure, insurance firms, schools, government organisations, and financial institutions.