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Kenya high internet penetration brings job opportunities

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- After completing his university studies in August, Habil Amuko stayed with his uncle in Kenya’s capital Nairobi for a month as he tried to get an internship.

After he failed to secure an opportunity, he travelled back home in Busia, western Kenya, to stay with his parents as he continued to scout for an opening.

Before heading back home, Amuko was jittery about the things he would miss. One of them is internet connection since at his uncle’s home, he had access to free Wi-Fi through which he would search for internship opportunities.

“My initial fears were unfounded because upon reaching home, I realized that I could readily access the internet through my phone and affordably,” said Amuko on Wednesday, adding that he got an internship opportunity in Kisumu, some 70km away, last month after seeing an advertisement on the internet.

High internet penetration across the east African nation has come as a blessing to hundreds of Kenyan youths, giving them opportunities that include jobs and internship, and enabling them to market their produce for those who are farming.

Internet costs have further declined as citizens’ use of smart phones rises amid stiff competition among the three telecoms in the east African nation.

Citizens are currently accessing up to 2 GB for 50 Kenyan shillings (0.49 U.S. dollar), down from 4.9 dollars over two years ago.

“I do online work and all this is because of easy internet access and affordability,” said Martin Kibochia, an online writer.

“I access the internet through my smart phone by sharing data with my computer, get the assignments, work on them and sent them back. I have been doing the work for two years, earning eight dollars to 10 dollars per article,” added Kibochia, who studied English and literature at a university.

Kenya’s internet penetration stood at over 41 million subscriptions by June, the latest data from the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) showed. Over 99 percent of internet subscribers access the service via mobile phones.

Internet penetration has been rising over the years, and CA attributes this transformation to the rollout of Universal Service Fund projects, increased investment in network upgrades by service providers and the rollout of Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G technologies.

“The increasing availability of affordable smart phones and cheap data bundles has also played a major role in facilitating internet penetration,” said the regulator, noting other means Kenyans access the internet include high speed fiber and satellite.

The institution added that the internet market is expected to continue growing as the government undertakes initiatives such as the establishment of more information and communication technology hubs.

“If it was not for the internet and social media, I would not be a happy farmer,” said Simon Mutua, an auditor working in Kenya’s capital Nairobi.

Mutua, 34, who is a farmer on the side, sells his farm produce - mainly honey - exclusively via social media.

“I have 30 hives and each offers me at least 15kg every three months. A week before I start harvesting, I normally visit my farm in Makueni, I post on my social media accounts mainly on Facebook and on WhatsApp groups inviting buyers and wait for orders and all this is because of affordable internet,” he said.

To boost internet penetration further, Kenya is working on setting up internet villages to allow citizens access Wi-Fi hot spots, according to the Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology of Kenya.

The project, said the ministry, would spur business and opportunities in both rural and urban areas.

Bernard Mwaso, a consultant with Edell IT Solution in Nairobi, said Kenya is among the countries in the world with the highest internet penetration though the majority is on mobile phone.

“Still this has created opportunities as Kenyans are selling their wares on social media and doing freelance jobs, especially for the unemployed youths,” he said, calling on the government to prioritize provision of free Wi-Fi across the country.



Kenya seeks to tap into China’s industrial technology to boost exports

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s business community is seeking to tap into China’s industrial technology in order to boost its exports, officials said on Wednesday.

James Mureu, national vice chairman of Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI), told a business forum in Nairobi that local manufacturers are facing stiff competition from foreign industrialists leading to a stagnation of the sector.

“We are therefore keen for joint ventures with Chinese firms so that Kenya can benefit from advanced manufacturing technology that will make the country a major exporter of products,” Mureu said during the first edition of the China Home Life Kenya Exhibition and Business to Business Forum.

Over 600 Chinese suppliers of home products such as consumer electronics, furniture, textile garments, lights and lamps from eight Chinese provinces in China are showcasing their products for three days.

The KNCCI has already signed memorandum of understandings with four provincial chambers of commerce in China in order to boost bilateral commercial ties.

Oliver Konje, director of bilateral trade at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives said that the Chinese fair provides a very good platform for Kenyan buyers to network with Chinese suppliers.

“The interaction may culminate in joint ventures, which are significant in expansion of trade and investment,” Kiptoo said.

He revealed that Kenya’s main exports to China were titanium ores, niobium, tantalum, tea, plastic waste, leather, sheep, lamb skin and other oil seeds while top imports from China included telephone sets, non-electric rail locomotives, cars and automatic data processing machines.

The government official said that trade plays a significant role in both countries’ growth and development through its linkages with all sectors of the economy.

Konje said that Kenya welcomes increased Chinese investments especially in manufacturing and value addition.

“This will help bridge the wide trade deficit between the two countries and support the government’s big four agenda,” he added.

He observed that Kenya is working tirelessly on improving the investment environment in order to reduce the cost of doing business in the country.

Li Xuhang, Charge d’Affaires of Chinese Embassy in Kenya said that the China Home Life Kenya Exhibition is not only a platform to promote the development of bilateral trade but also a bridge for communication and cooperation.

According to the envoy, the exhibitors are from the major economic and trade provinces in China that have their own characteristics in industrial development, which are highly complementary to Kenya.

“We hope that on this fair, participants will have in-depth and extensive exchanges, establish contacts and lay a foundation for future cooperation. At the same time, apart from commodity trade, we hope that participants from both sides pay more attention to industrial investment cooperation,” he added.

He noted that the Chinese government encourages Chinese enterprises to invest in Kenya, adding that as a gateway to East Africa, Kenya’s significant geographical advantages, stable political status, solid economic foundation and relatively superior business environment make it an attractive destination for Chinese investment


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