Roundup: Online jobs thrive in Kenya as Internet costs hit new low

2021-06-04 15:55:32 GMT2021-06-04 23:55:32(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

NAIROBI, June 4 (Xinhua) -- At 5:00 a.m. every day, Mercy Atieno, a resident of Nairobi, Kenya, normally sits behind her laptop and logs into a database to begin working online. Her employer is in the Philippines and her work involves digitizing dozens of records for a government department.

While Atieno works alone in her parents' home, her colleagues are spread in different parts of the east African nation and the world. "This is what I have been doing for the past two years after completing university and hunting for a job in vain," she told Xinhua in a recent interview.

When she started working online, one of the challenges she faced was high Internet charges, with Atieno spending up to 4,000 shillings (about 37 U.S. dollars) a month. Today, however, the 27-year-old spends a quarter of the amount on the Internet a month. This follows a drastic decline in Internet costs in east African, with charges hitting the lowest level ever.

Every month, Kenyans are currently buying 120 gigabytes (GB) of data for about 2,000 shillings. This is a decline from an average of 1 GB data for 9.3 dollars some years back. The low Internet charges have made online jobs in the country a fruitful venture for many youths, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"These days you use the Internet and you don't feel a pinch in your pocket because a dollar worth of data bundles will last you for days," said Collins Kariuki, who works for the government's digital jobs program dubbed Ajira.

The program has employed some 40,000 youths, who work for local and international employers, according to the Ministry of ICT, as the Kenyan government seeks to reduce the unemployment crisis.

Some of the jobs Kenyans do online include marketing, social media influencing, record archiving, article writing and report writing, and web and magazine designing. Most of the jobs require round-the-clock online presence as a majority of the employers, especially those abroad, monitor how one performs the tasks in real-time.

The Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) puts the number of Internet users in east African at around 44.4 million as of the end of 2020. The number has risen since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the east African nation in March 2020. This is because most services and transactions went online leading to massive use of the Internet and thus data consumption.

"Traffic growth has been fueled by more consumers viewing video content as a result of the rising number of smartphones as well as the availability of high-speed Internet in the country," notes CA in its latest report.

Bernard Mwaso of Edell IT Solutions, a software development start-up in Nairobi, noted that the cost of the Internet plays a bigger role in Kenya in terms of accessibility. Internet costs have fallen because of "intense competition among the three telecom firms for the fast-growing data market," he said.

He added that as Internet costs fall in Kenya, speed has been increased by the telecom operators namely Safaricom, Telkom and Airtel, creating a further boom. Enditem