How does women’s use of the mobile internet compare with men’s in Kenya? This was the question we set out to answer in our latest case study Mobile Data Plans in Kenya: Quantifying women’s access to the digital world. The study dives into data collected for our previous research on The Impacts of Emerging Mobile Data Services in Developing Countries to explore the types of mobile data plans that Kenyans are purchasing, and to gain a deeper understanding of how women in Kenya are accessing and using the internet, compared with their male counterparts.
Though Kenya — considered by many to be the heart of technological innovation in Africa — boasts one of the continent’s highest rates of internet penetration, it is not immune to many of the challenges related to affordable and universal internet access faced by other countries in the region. High costs mean that less than 20% of the country connects to broadband (3G + 4G) services, and a significant digital gender gap in internet use and smartphone ownership exists.
With this in mind, we dug into the findings from a set of mobile phone-based surveys we administered in 2016 to 1,000 internet users in Kenya — 500 female, and 500 male — to learn more about how Kenyan women and men access the internet on their mobile phones, and how much they spend on mobile data plans. Our findings show that:
- Most Kenyans (70%) use full-cost data plans to access the internet. These are plans with no restrictions as to the sites or apps that can be accessed, but where access is limited according to the purchased data allowance.
- Women are more likely than men to buy full-cost data plans. Women often purchase smaller full-cost data plans (1GB or less); men, when they do purchase full-cost plans, tend to purchase larger bundles (larger than 1GB).
- Men tend to purchase more service-specific plans (i.e., plans in which access to certain websites or apps is subsidised). Of those surveyed that reported using service-specific data plans, 74% were men and 26% were women.
To learn more, read the brief case study, and explore some of the broader findings of our research on The Impacts of Emerging Mobile Data Services in Developing Countries.