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What the study is about

This study develops a comprehensive evidence base of how different Kenyans access and use digital services, as well as the specific support they need to increase the quality and depth of their participation in the digital economy. It creates a comprehensive account of how digital services support and impact people’s lives; people’s satisfaction and concerns of using digital services; the depth of digital exclusion and challenges people continue to face in accessing and using digital services; and, finally, the enabling resources, applications / services, and the supporting ecosystem required to deepen people’s participation in the digital economy.

How we conducted the study

This study is based on findings from a nationally representative survey that gathered the experiences and perspectives of 2,456 residents in Kenya. We conducted one-hour in-depth interviews with respondents across all 47 counties in Kenya.

Following data analysis, we conducted in-depth interviews using human-centred design (HCD) research with 27 people. All data collection took place from November to December 2020.

The survey output is a public dataset that allows anyone to conduct their own analyses—to add nuance to the findings reported here or to arrive at their own conclusions.

Limitations of the study

Given the limitations of survey methodologies, we focused only on questions that residents were able to answer credibly through a survey format. We are also limited by the following:

  • Residents’ personal perceptions and experiences are by nature subjective

  • While we have tried to understand specific challenges that limit people’s usage of various digital services, we cannot attribute causality to these drivers

  • This study likely underestimates the real extent of e-commerce, as respondents largely reported the use of marketplace platforms like Jumia and Kilimall while the full breadth of e-commerce also encompasses digital trade through informal platforms—for example, via social media—as well as payments, logistics, addressing systems, and asset recognition including mapping/tracking commodity ownership or exchange. Still, even if all forms of e-commerce were included, there is almost certainly room for many more Kenyans to utilise or deepen their utilisation of digital services for commerce and trade.

  • Through a rigorous review process and extensive enumerator training, we have tried to minimise biases arising from the framing, sequence, translation, communication, and interpretation of questions; some biases will inevitably remain.

  • Given that we conducted this research in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, residents’ responses may reflect conditions (some of which limit users and some of which may push them to adopt more digital services) that differ from the pre-pandemic norm. We have tried to ask respondents to note how their usage of digital services changed during the pandemic, but some recency biases almost certainly remain.

  • Because this study considers only the views of Kenyan residents, we do not attempt to develop a systemic view of the ecosystem that includes a comprehensive exploration of supply-side factors. As a result, we have chosen to not make formal recommendations.

Considerations in selecting
the primary sampling units

Based on the 2019 census data, the total population of Kenya was

Those aged 15+ years numbered 29,013,291,
representing 61% of the total population.

The census data were classified by prevailing administrative units
in Kenya, from the largest to the smallest, i.e., by
county → sub-county → ward → location → sub-location

and disaggregated by
age, gender, and location (rural/urban),
as well as level of education.