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Digital Disruption in the Context of Kenya and Africa

  Mar 28, 2019

Strathmore University Business School’s (SBS) Alumni Association hosted its monthly Knowledge Session on 26th March 2019. The topic of the day, ‘Digital Disruption in the context of Kenya and Africa’. The session was conducted by Mr. Moses Kemibaro, a multiple award-winning tech blogger and the founder and CEO of Dot savvy, Kenya’s first digital agency.

What happens when new digital technologies and business models affect the value proposition of existing goods and services? Digital Disruption. Mr. Kemibaro gave a vivid example of Kenya’s ‘Lunatic express’, a slow-moving train on transit between Kenya and Uganda in 1901 that proved to be a major economic development in East Africa. This was however overshadowed by the recent Standard Gauge Railway that connects the large Indian Ocean city of Mombasa with Nairobi, Kenya’s capital. This was disruptive as it is now the most preferred mode of travel, providing the country with safe, reliable and efficient railway transport service surpassing that of the ‘lunatic express’.

In the same light we discussed the internet and how the digital era came about, when your telephone line doubled as your modem. The noisy, screeching sound of data transfer that was a clear depiction of the analogue world being bridged by the digital. If you are old enough to remember it, then you knew a world that was analogue first. The analogue world, a time deprived of pleasures such as m-pesa, mobile phones, fibre optics and broadband cellular network technology.

Fast-forward to present day where we can barely function without our digital companions. “In Kenya digital consumption has steadily grown over the years in comparison to our East African counterparts”, said Mr. Kemibaro. Individuals across all age groups plugin to social platforms such as Facebook, twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and corporates along with many others have slowly joined the trend.

Unemployment and the need for a creative space for millennials has pushed our youth to the digital space. They use the platforms to market goods for sale, order food, request taxis, locate areas on the map, advertise services and create content for edutainment purposes. This has brought about a rise in a new wave of marketers known as “social media influencers”. The corporates use them in what is termed as Influencer marketing. This is where focus is placed on influential people rather than the target market as a whole on social media. It identifies the individuals who have influence over potential customers, and orients marketing activities around these influencers.

The growth of the digital space has also led to innovation in the corporate sphere where they now have apps to allow for easier transaction and are able to offer customer service remotely by conversing with clients on social media. Institutions that would be formerly described as rigid have now had to conform as social media has led to a form of transparency in their service levels that was not originally there. In closing Mr. Kemibaro left us on a high note stating that in this day and age “a brand is not what it tells the community it is, it is what the community tells each other it is”.


This article was written by Pamela Nyandat.

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