“Mulika Mwizi”, “Kabambe”, and “Katululu” are just a few of the names given to feature phones in Kenya. However, you would think that in 2022, feature phones are phasing out. Smartphone penetration seems to have reached the very last corner of even the most remote parts of Kenya. However, the latest data from the Communications Authority of Kenya shows otherwise.
Kenyans Still Have More Feature Phones Than Smartphones In 2022
The CAK report shows that in the year to June 2022, the total number of mobile phones connected to mobile networks was 59.7 million. In this tally, feature phones and smartphones account for 32.9 and 26.8 million, respectively.
The penetration rates for feature phones and smartphones computed as a percentage of the total population were 66.6 and 54.3 percent, respectively.
Kenyans prefer feature phones for several reasons.
First, to be fair, many of these may be backup devices for people with a smartphone as their primary gadget. Given the unpredictable nature of the power supply in some parts( *cough cough* many parts) of Kenya, it is prudent to have a ‘Kabambe’ that lasts longer than KPLC’s connection.
When it comes to flexibility in network connectivity, feature phones kick ass over smartphones. Especially in rural areas where smartphones seem to struggle, these tiny retro-like options still manage to do well with calls and messages.
It is true, smartphones are getting cheaper with time. In fact, financing options from Telcos and retailers have made it possible for almost anyone in Kenya to get an affordable smartphone. While they boast of more features than the “kabambes”, they are still a bit more expensive. You can easily get a feature phone in Kenya with KES 500 (4 USD) or less.
Also, considering how safe the tiny devices are, safe from a mugging at events and in busy urban areas- why not! I bet several people get them for this very reason.