Internet Usage and Socio-Cultural Change in Nairobi/Kenya

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 3:40 PM
Room: Booth 43
Oral Presentation
Johanna RIESS , BIGSAS, Germany
Through technical improvements and cheaper access the Internet in Kenya is becoming more and more important. For many years mainly Internet cafés have been the most important source for Internet access. Nowadays there are more and more people who own a private Computer/Laptop or use their working place to access the Internet. But the most important change is the rapid spread of mobile use of the Internet in Kenya.

The Kenyan Internet- and Mobile phone market is growing fast and it cannot be ignored that thus the Kenyan society is changing. On the streets of Nairobi you can find Internet cafés nearly everywhere and you can pay nearly everywhere with M-Pesa. Mobile phone shops, repair services for computer and mobile phones and private computer colleges are an integral part of the road infrastructure.

Nearly every Kenyan has a mobile phone; for younger people it is very important to have a Facebook account.

In my research I wanted to find out what people do with on the Internet and how this is changing the life of the users. I visited three different cybercafés in different areas in Nairobi. One cybercafé was in a big shopping mal, the second in the city centre and the third in the so-called slum area Mathare. The inequalities were obvious but it was also very surprising how widespread the Internet already was and how different the people used it.  

Another aspect of the presentation will be the function of Facebook before, during and after the Kenyan election in March 2013. During the post election violence in 2007/2008 over 1100 people were killed. Everybody was watching the election 2013 with worries and tension. After the results were announced everything remained more or less peaceful on the streets but on Facebook there started an ethnic war with words.