The ICT sector in Kenya has seen drastic changes in recent years. The Kenyan government has encouraged the sector through investment and favourable policies for ICT infrastructure and development. The government initiatives to propel ICT through policies and grants have significantly influenced the growth rate of the industry in recent years. Kenya was one of the first countries in the East African region to install fibre optic cables. As of 2018, statistics showed that Kenya had a data subscription of 46.8 million. The large number is due to affordable smartphones, a growing digital economy, and affordable data prices.
Kenya's growing ICT sector has skyrocketed in 2020 owing to the novel Coronavirus. Since the first reported case in March, the government has dictated measures and guidelines that have forced many organisations, industries, and individuals to increase their internet usage. For instance, the government immediately closed schools in a bid to protect children. Similarly, measures such as quarantine, lockdown, curfews, and social distancing have substantially influenced the country's culture. With more people at home than ever before, people have turned to the internet for entertainment, work, and education as they await to resume normalcy.
Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISP) and Internet Service providers (ISP) in Kenya are raking in big this year due to the crisis and sudden demand for internet access. Research suggests that the demand for the internet in 2020 has gone up by nearly 40%. These statistics are not surprising as the pandemic has extended for a long time and necessitated alternative lifestyles. Many companies, for instance, have adapted work from home policies hence increasing dependency on the internet. Online conference calls have become the order of the day and online collaborative tools have increased in popularity. Similarly, following government closure of schools, parents and educators have turned to e-learning to keep students engaged despite the pandemic. As such, cable internet has become a necessity leading to giant corporations investing heavily in wider reach.
Another large market for ISP businesses is the use of the internet for leisure. Since the pandemic started, studies show that Kenyans have streamed movies on Netflix at a rate of 60Gbps, which is four times the traffic for last year. Considering this is data from only one website, it is clear that the data usage in Kenya has gone up drastically owing to the pandemic. Mobile penetration is another key factor influencing internet consumption as Kenya is the leading nation in East Africa in mobile phone penetration. Social media usage has also gone up significantly this year with Facebook being the most visited website in the country.
Becoming a WISP or ISP in Kenya is becoming a great investment with worthy a payoff particularly during this season. However, despite the ownership of equipment and hardware, ISP billing can be a headache. Most in-build billing solutions can be cumbersome and often fail the internet providers, which can lead to losses. In some other cases, such billing often requires manual follow-up, connection, and disconnection. Such operation models can be frustrating for both customers and internet service providers. As such, people looking into the sector must implement efficient billing for both their convenience and clients.
One of the most reliable billing solutions for WISP and ISP billing is Simple WISP billing. The system considers both client and service provider needs to offer an efficient billing tool for automatic connection and disconnection. The system, which makes use of the M-Pesa payment option, offers both voucher billing as well as an external captive portal to help you monetize your network. With the voucher option, the system allows you to define vouchers with different characteristics depending on your preferences. When a user tries to access your network, they are taken to a page where they are required to input a voucher code and given instructions on how to pay. Once they pay, they receive a voucher on SMS that they can then use. With the external captive portal option, the user is asked to enter their M-Pesa phone number and select a package. They then receive a prompt on their phone to approve M-Pesa payment and are logged in automatically once payment is confirmed.
The Covid-19 pandemic has propelled Kenya's economy deeper into ICT expansion and internet use. The growing demand for the internet in homes is projected to continue rising in the last quarter of the year and continue expanding next year. In turn, this creates a great opportunity for ISP providers to tap into the ever-growing market. Tools such as Simple WISP billing can greatly benefit such organisations to grow their income by automating such tasks hence serving clients more effectively.
By Christine Njoki - Published 30th Sep 2020, 11:35pm