The COVID-19 pandemic was undoubtedly the defining event of 2020. Its effect on society will long be felt even if it is eventually under control in the future. Movement restrictions, a renewed focus on public health, and the use of various technologies were some of the notable effects of the pandemic.

Digital technology was one of the main coping mechanisms. It is argued that COVID-19 accelerated the world by about ten years in terms of technology adoption.

This was in an attempt to bridge the gap caused by travel and gathering restrictions. Online meetings and remote work became normal, but how big was this disruption?

Increased internet usage during the COVID-19 pandemic

At the beginning of the pandemic, Safaricom released some data showing how internet, calls, and SMS usage had changed in Kenya. Notably, internet usage increased by 40%.

This data has now been complemented by data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), which shed some light on the money that Kenyans spent on telecommunication equipment that would help support remote work.

Digital devices sales increase

Between April and October 2020, KNBS reports that Kenyans spent KShs 16.9 billion on devices such as computers, smartphones, and networking devices. In contrast, the amount spent in a similar period in 2019 was KShs 8.84 billion, a growth of nearly 85%.

While markets for many products shrunk, computing and communication devices experienced an increase as people worked from home, children learned online and physical meetings were canceled. This is likely what led to a huge growth in the market for computing and communication devices.

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