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Kenyan youths enjoy cheaper internet as costs fall to record low

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenyan youths are enjoying record low internet charges as competition for data market between the three telecom firms in the East African intensifies.

The young people, who are the biggest subscribers of the internet via mobile phone, are currently paying about 1 U.S. dollar for 2 gigabyte (GB) of data. It is the lowest charge since the advent of the internet in the East African.

Some telecom firms have even bettered the deal for the youth, offering various data bundles alongside free calls and text messages.

The East African nation has some 30 million internet subscribers, according to the data from the Communication Authority of Kenya.

Smartphone penetration has surged to about 50 percent of the 40 million mobile users in the country.

The number has been rising over the years as prices of smartphones decline.

Low-cost smartphones from Chinese manufacturers like Techno are now going for 25 dollars.

One further gets good internet-enabled phones from 10 dollars.

The affordable gadgets have, therefore, kept the number of internet users in the East African nation on the rise, making the telcoms intensify fight for the data market.

From offering standalone data bundles, the three telecom firms in the East African nation namely Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom have products that incorporate calls, SMSs, internet and free access to social media sites.

"I am happy with internet costs.

"The service is almost free," university student Faith Anyango said Friday.

Anyango subscribes to daily bundles of between 500 megabytes (MB) and 2GB depending on her needs.

The 21-year-old student literally spends all her time on the internet, especially when she is on long holiday.

"I do research, chat with friends on social media sites and follow news events from across the world on my phone without worrying that my data will lapse," she said.

For motorbike taxi operator David Ngunjiri, the low internet charges are a blessing. Ngunjiri, 27, has enrolled for taxi-hailing app service, which demands that he remains online to get customers.

"I subscribe for daily service at 0.50 dollars, which allows me to access internet the entire day and get customers," he said.

The rider said the low internet charges have come as a huge blessing for him in an industry where there is stiff competition.

"Before I enrolled to the hailing app, I would stay for hours without getting customers but now 30 minutes hardly ends because they get me on phone," said Ngunjiri, who operates on the east of Nairobi.

Bernard Mwaso, a consultant with Edell IT Solutions, said internet charges in the country had made great strides.

"I remember 10 years ago we used to pay up to 0.50 dollars per megabyte.

"Such an amount now buys you 500MB, a great milestone," he noted.

He attributed the decline in internet charges to adoption of fiber optic internet, besides stiff rivalry among telecom firms.



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