June 13, 2012
Many Kenyans share mobile phones, study finds
Most rural Kenyans do not own mobile phones, and women are less likely to own phones than men, a new study has revealed, reports SciDev.Net.
The study was carried out by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and Harvard School of Public Health, the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), and the University of Oxford.
They used data captured during a 2009 national survey conducted by Financial Sector Deepening Kenya, a financial services support programme in Nairobi. More than 30,000 people aged over 16 — from nearly 650 communities across the country — took part in the survey.
Participants were asked about their mobile phone usage, ownership and monthly airtime expenditure, and questions relating to their demographic background.
The study, published in PloS One (25 April), found that levels of mobile phone usage and ownership across the country varied greatly.
However Abdisalan Noor, one of the paper's authors who is based at KEMRI, told SciDev.Net that low ownership levels did not necessarily reflect low usage, as many subscribers reported sharing a single handset.
"[We] found that although only 44 per cent of individuals owned a mobile phone, 85 per cent reported [having used] a mobile phone, with results showing high levels of phone-sharing," Noor said.
"Many people in Kenya own sim cards but don't have handsets, so they share handsets with [each other]."
Low levels of handset ownership stemmed from a range of factors, including poverty, education, urbanisation and gender, Noor added.
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