Kenya: New survey results show Citizen challenging KBC’s dominant position in rural areas

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Last week market research company InterMedia launched AudienceScapes, a research web site funded by the Gates Foundation. It conducted two country surveys (Ghana and Kenya) in 2009 and of the two, the Kenya survey is probably the more interesting for African Broadcast, Film and Convergence readers. Based on a robust national sample covering all regions of the country, it is filled with a number of interesting nuggets: three examples are that 11% of the sample have access to the Internet at home, 12% use their mobiles weekly to access the Internet and that rural viewers in the sample were as likely to watch Citizen as KBC. Russell Southwood went through the numbers.

The InterMedia survey was conducted in August 2009 and had 2,000 respondents based on a probability-proportional-to-size (PPS) plan. 53% of the sample was aged 15-29. 35% of the sample was urban and 65% rural. Only 2% of the sample had a university degree or higher. The survey has been conducted after the arrival of two new international cables (Seacom and TEAMS) but before Internet prices were significantly reduced.

Based on the total population in Kenya of 23.8 million in 2009, 11% of the sample had access to the Internet based on which there are around 3,960,000 people with access. 23% had access in urban areas and 5% in rural areas.

However, the main media remain radio (87% overall, 90% in urban and 84% in rural areas), TV (41% overall, 62% in urban areas and 29% in rural areas) and mobile (77% overall, 83% in urban areas and 65% in rural areas). When asked what they used to get news and information in the last week, the sample respondents’ replies mirrored this pattern. However, word of mouth, especially with friends and family (66%) loomed large. Newspapers at 39% still have a significant lead over SMS at 23%.

98% consider radio very trustworthy or somewhat trustworthy as a source of information. Radio stations listened to were ranked as follows: Citizen (46%), KBC (28%), Inoro (12%), Easy/Nation (11%) and Kiss (10%). The lower percentages remain a considerable achievement in a very fragmented market.

However, on the TV front Citizen comes close to challenging state-run KBC on what has been traditionally considered its home ground, the rural areas:

Urban Rural

Citizen 59% 40%

KBC 41% 44%

KTN 55% 26%

NTV 49% 19%

These figures clearly show that that KTN and NTV are predominantly urban stations. However, this may change in the long-term as all broadcasters get access to a wider transmission area through Signet, Kenya’s digital signal carrier. Television is considered by 94% of the sample (just slightly less than radio) very or somewhat trustworthy. Interestingly only 63% consider SMS to be very or somewhat trustworthy.

Nevertheless, 63% of respondents send and receive SMS. 23% use their mobiles for financial transactions. 12% use it weekly to access the Internet and 4% claim to watch live TV.

Price and available bandwidth are obviously constraining what Kenyan Internet users can do and the majority still use it for things like e-mail and research. However, there are those using it several times a day/once day for the following (based on % of Internet users in the sample):

Visit social networking sites 32%

Watch/download videos 20%

Play games 17%

Listen to the radio 12%

All of these uses are before there is really the bandwidth to make this a pleasurable experience or the cost of Internet to make it widely attractive. The percentage for daily social networking sites backs up other survey findings and anecdotal evidence: Facebook has spread like wildfire in Kenya, both in urban and rural areas.

InterMedia has launched its AudienceScapes site which can be found on the link below. Whilst aimed at the development sector, there is a great deal of useful information for anyone involved in communications in Africa:

The two surveys of Ghana and Kenya can be downloaded by clicking on the links below: