While the global internet highway sings with gigabit speeds, Kenya remains chained to dial-up dreams. Our average download speed, a measly 15 Mbps, pales in comparison to Singapore’s lightning-fast 265.69 Mbps or South Korea’s 247.97 Mbps. This digital divide isn’t just a statistic; it’s a throttled dream. So, the question burns: when will gigabit internet grace Kenyan soil?
This snail-paced internet is further hampered by limited data caps. Take Safaricom, Kenya’s largest mobile network operator. They do not even have an unlimited plan. For comparison, in Singapore, unlimited data plans start as low as SGD 20 (Ksh 1,600).
The irony is, Kenya boasts 5G technology, theoretically capable of delivering speeds up to 100 times faster than 4G. But this potential remains largely unrealized. Safaricom, the dominant telecom operator, offers 5G plans starting at a measly 5 Mbps, no different than their 4G offerings.
Why offer 5G at 10Mbps? This deliberate throttling of 5G speeds betrays a disconnect between technological advancement and consumer needs. Kenyans are paying a premium for a technology they’re not allowed to fully experience. Meanwhile, data-intensive sectors like healthcare, education, and remote work suffer under the limitations of slow internet.
So, what’s the way out? Increased competition among service providers is crucial. The recent entry of Airtel 5G, however, hasn’t delivered the desired price-speed revolution. I feel like Telkom once stood a chance to offer real competition but Safaricom is a Goliath that needs a David and Telkom didn’t quite stand a chance. Additionally, initiatives like the National Fiber Optic Backbone Infrastructure (NOFBI) project and Starlink hold promise for improved connectivity in underserved areas.