Trend Monitoring Report. The Greater Horn online: Silicon Valley rising?

The Greater Horn of East Africa is experiencing a tremendous growth across the region in ICT infrastructure and usage. The newsletter presents some examples of initiatives to improve access to Internet, and interesting statistic from various sources. 

Excerpt from the Editorial

Our January 2010 review of the data on phone and Internet connectivity in the Greater Horn of East Africa (GHEA) revealed three major insights, namely (a) the tremendous growth in connectivity across the region through fixed lines, mobile phones and the Internet, (b) an increase in GHEA's share of the African market over the past five years, and (c) Kenya's clear leadership position in ICT infrastructure in the region. The impact of the rapid growth in the region's mobile telephone and Internet connectivity is being noticed internationally. Recent press articles have called Kenya the 'Silicon Valley' of financial innovation.

Part one of this May 2010 issue collects further evidence of the region's innovation and its emerging impact in the civic, commercial and social dimensions of peoples lives.

Powerful commercial incentives to expand subscriber bases and grow revenues, have led large telecoms companies to accelerate regional integration by eliminating roaming charges between countries, and provide the convenience of single number mobility across border. More dramatic changes are evident in the 'mash up' between telecoms firms and banks to offer affordable financial services to those who had no previous access to them.

The newsletter also identifies some examples of initiatives to improve access to Internet, and to use it to enhance the delivery of education and health services. From malaria to elephants, mobile phones are being experimented with as tracking devices. The region has not been left out of the social media adoption boom. There has been an immense growth in the number of blogs by Africans, both living in the region and in the broader diaspora. It is difficult to map out the exact number as more and more people are taking advantage of the relative ease of access to publish their own blogs. Nonetheless, the proliferation of these blogs is an indication that there is a growing connected community that sees the Internet as a viable medium, not only for entertainment but also for engagement on general topical issues. The number of users of the key social media sites and services such as Facebook and Twitter is also increasing in the region. Indeed, the report presents some interesting statistics gleaned from various sources.

Following an overview of five months (January-May 2010) worth of an eclectic collection of ICT-related headlines from the region's weekly newspaper The EastAfrican, The Greater Horn Online: Silicon Valley Rising? gives the Last Word to a Kenyan software engineer's perspective on the main issues emerging from a February 2010 Mobile Web East Africa Conference held in Nairobi.

Read the full report

  • In this issue:
  • Editorial
  • Part 1: Impact of Connectivity
  • Part 2: Last Word: Ten Conclusions from Mobile Web East Africa Conference 'Harnessing the potential of the internet and mobile device applications'
  • The political mood and sentiment as reflected in the media


Photo: One Laptop Per Child/flickr