Kenya has the biggest mobile subscription base with 24.9 million mobile phone subscribers and a penetration rate of 71.3 percent (Communication Commission of Kenya, 2010).
In 2006, mobile subscriptions in the country were a mere 7.3 million. By the end of 2010, less than five years later, Kenyan mobile subscriptions had grown to almost 25 million. Not surprising given the growth of mobile phone use, the country's fixed line subscriptions have seen a tremendous fall from over 675,000 at the end of 2009, to 380,000 in December 2010. The number of Kenyan Internet/data subscriptions is 4.7 million, with an estimated 10.2 million Internet users representing 26 percent of the country's population.
Kenya is on the brink of becoming Africa's ICT hub, thanks to the continued growth in Internet and mobile technology use in East Africa's biggest economy. The recent World Bank Kenya Economic Update report (2010) states that over the last decade, ICT has outperformed all others sectors in Kenya, growing at an average of 20% annually. The report reveals that Kenya has opened 2011 with renewed and stronger than expected growth on the back of a new constitution, strong macro-economic policies, and a favourable regional environment.
The governance project launched in September 2011 and is an attempt to address the fact that the Kenyan government has been slow in providing adequate and quality services to its citizens in various sectors like agriculture, health, water, education, and finance. This has hampered the sustainable development in the country. Leveraging the extremely high mobile penetration and uptake of mobile applications across the country, research at iHub is exploring the conditions needed for successful use of mobiles that will bypass the need for physical interaction and communication. Eliminating such physical interactions has great potential to reduce opportunities for corruption and also add value to government services by delivering them to citizens' doorsteps.
iHub will engage with marginalized communities across Kenya to assess mobile applications as a potential avenue for increasing citizen participation in government and as a more effective public service method. iHub's project aims to identify, describe and provide an analysis of the conditions that can promote the use of mobile phones for increased citizen participation and successful public services delivery.