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Kenyans Spend Most of their Income on Airtime, Report says

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Luis Monzon
Luis Monzon
Journalist. Reach me at

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) has revealed, via a survey, that Kenyans spend most of their income on airtime.

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The survey, published in the KNBS Consumer Price Index (CPI) for March 2020, showed that mobile phone airtime is currently the highest expenditure in this new CPI with an overall weight of 5.496%. A large increase from the previous CPI which detailed the expenditure at 3.086%.

The expenditure on mobile airtime was at the top of the list. Followed by, interestingly, bus fare, and then rent (single room), hotel food, beef, rent (2 bedroom), milk, beer, unpackaged milk and white bread.

The KNBS also added several new tech items that were in frequent use in Kenya, but all paled in comparison with the expenditure on airtime. These included DStv subscriptions/charges, courier services, mobile money transfer, garbage collection, and university boarding fees.

This new data is startling because it means that more Kenyans than ever are putting more of their income on airtime than on standard bills like rent. Tech Weez writes that with millions of Kenyans owning multiple sim cards and phones, airtime is simply no longer a luxury.

Airtime is used for voice calls and for buying data that people use for a variety of things – namely catching up with friends and family on social media, or for work, through video calling or sending emails.

As per the latest statistics, there are more active sim cards in Kenya than there are people – a whopping 54.5 million. Kenyans made phone calls totalling close to 15-billion minutes only between October and December last year.

Edited by Luis Monzon

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