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ICT Forum warns on broadband

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Tuesday, Sep 19th

‘Kenyan app developers struggle to make money’

Kenyan app developers struggle to make money.

Kenyan technology developers are struggling to monetise their applications despite the country’s high mobile money usage rates, says an expert.

Kenya has the world’s largest population of mobile money users at over 25 million users, according to the country’s local telecoms regulator.

But Kevin Njoki, a software engineer at East African document management solutions firm COSEKE, has told ITWeb Africa that it is still difficult to monetise applications in this environment.

“As developers out here, it is proving quite hard to find the sustainable revenue generation model for your app, once you create it,” Njoki has told ITWeb Africa.

“This has left most of us with no option, other than creating an app, to put it out there on an app store and hope that one day we make a killing out of a hackathon cash prize,” he said.

Even though Kenya is one of Africa’s fastest growing economies, with growth rates averaging above 6% this decade so far, the country is still classified as a low income nation by the World Bank.

This in turn has resulted in Kenyans having little money to spend.

However, according to Youth Education Network programme assistant Pauline Nderi speaking at an event in Kenya earlier this year, a low-income Kenyan could spend an average of Ksh 50 on a daily basis, amounting to Ksh 1,500 per month.

And Njoki has told ITWeb Africa that an opportunity could exist in this prepaid space.

“Kenya has one of the highest internet penetrations in East Africa, with the highest traffic coming from mobile devices,” said Njoki.

“All these devices have access to one thing in order to operate: airtime,” Njoki told ITWeb Africa.

Njoki said that most users are yet to adopt debit or credit card usage in the country, and the next best option would for app developers to target mobile money or airtime usage.

But mobile money, in particular, still presents challenges for Kenyan developers.

“Even with mobile money, it is still hard to integrate all the different platforms out there, since most telcos are yet to open up their systems via an application programming interface (API) to allow us assimilate them in our apps,” he added.

Njoki; then, has urged Kenyan telcos to allow developers to charge for their applications using airtime, as this could benefit both parties.

“We have seen the airtime model work perfectly in selling of ringtones and other media that work even on feature phones. I think it is time we also applied the same model when it comes to apps, and I can assure you, Kenya will witness an exponential growth in the number of quality apps being created out there, something that could catapult us in achieving our ‘Silicon Savannah dream’.”

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