Factors Influencing Usage of New Technologies in Low-Income Households in Kenya: the Case of Nairobi

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Factors influencing usage of new technologies in low-income households in Kenya: the case of Nairobi

Margaret Nyambura Ndung’u, Timothy Mwololo Waema and Winnie V. Mitullah

Margaret Nyambura Ndung’u is a Researcher and Lecturer in the School of Informatics and Computing, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya. Timothy Mwololo Waema is a Professor in the School of Informatics and Computing, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya. Winnie V. Mitullah is a Professor in the Institute of Development Studies, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya.

Abstract Purpose – Use of e-mail, the internet and mobile phones, collectively referred to as the ‘‘new technologies’’ in this paper, is influenced by various factors in low-income households. These factors, which range between individual, social, economic, environmental, cultural and knowledge, have not been explored fully, particularly in low-income households in Kenya. This paper aims to argue that access to the new technologies does not lead automatically to use thereof, since a combination of the factors determines if (and how) the technologies are used. Design/methodology/approach – This paper uses data collected through a survey conducted in 2010, which complemented the 2007 Research ICT Africa (RIA) data. The 2010 survey focused on three clusters based in Nairobi, a subset of RIA (2007). The three clusters are Ofafa 1 (A), Umoja II (B) and Riruta Satellite (C). Data from 40 households are used. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected from the households. Findings – Age, income, gender, education level, skills and marital status influenced usage of the new technologies in diverse ways. With innovations such as M-Pesa, the respondents who used the technology and were confident with the usage cut across education levels. Males used the new technologies more than females did. A possible reason for this may be found in a further finding which shows that males had acquired more years of education than had females. The...