A lot has changed in Kenya in the last ten years. Digital disruption has led to death of some businesses and birth of others, and the trend will continue in the next couple of years.

In this article, I take a look at a number of industries that have faced this disruption in Kenya. It is important to also state that the biggest enabler of this digital disruption is the smartphone.

Finance

The finance fields that have experienced the biggest disruption include money transfer, lending, payments and banking.

Although M-PESA was launched in Kenya more than ten years ago, it is only in the last few years that we have seen the true potential of what it can do manifest. For the first few years, M-PESA was just an interpersonal money transfer service, from where it grew to be what it is now.

While money transfer is still the main application, today’s M-PESA offers savings, money lending, bulk payments, automated payments, bank transfer and even international money transfer service.

There are many other Fintech companies that have also revolutionized the finance industry in Kenya. Even traditional banks have come of age, allowing customers to perform a wide range of online banking services from the comfort of their homes, as opposed to regular bank visits. Utility companies such as Kenya Power have made it possible for one to pay their bills without visiting their offices, a banking hall or a post office.

Media

The ease of sharing and distribution of media using digital channels has seen the media industry facing the greatest disruption. This includes the news media that now have to compete with social media and other digital channels, the telcos whose revenue in voice and SMS communication as been greatly impacted by over the top services, and the industries such as DVD and other physical media distribution companies.

At the start of 2010, it was still difficult to send someone a scanned document, because you had to find somewhere to scan the document and go online to send it via email. Today, you can take the photo on the smartphone and share via WhatsApp. It was cheaper to buy a DVD than to download a movie, while today downloading is way much easier, while services such Netflix have made countless movies available.

At the receiving end of this disruption have been the telcos whose major source of revenue has been reduced to being ISPs. The print media has also met its Waterloo.

Transport and logistics

Ride hailing apps have completely disrupted the traditional taxi business. So great was the disruption that it initially resulted in physical fights, as the traditional taxi operators saw their income shrink to almost nothing, forcing almost all of them to join Uber, Bolt and Little Cab in order to survive.

Transport and logistics service is also going through a similar disruption. Today, moving goods is a bit easier and faster, as one can take advantage if various services providers like Lori Systems and Sendy.

This transport and logistics disruption has majorly been felt in the urban areas. The rural areas continue to experience challenges and in the coming decade, we can hope to see more tech companies come up with business models that can suit the rural areas.

Retail

E-commerce has gained some traction in Kenya, although it is still overshadowed by the traditional retail platforms. Even today, shopping malls are sprouting but the physical shops in those malls are taking the baby steps to list their products online so that people can find them more easily.

A number of e-commerce platforms that have a significant market share in Kenya include Jumia, Kilimall, Jiji, Pigiame and Copia. Amazon and Alibaba are also very present in Kenya. These offer a wide range of products, and they are all competing to gain market dominance. There is still a long way to go till this industry achieves it optimum potential.

Who is next?

In the coming decades, we expect to see more digital disruptions in different industries. The ones mentioned above will continue to experience varied disruptions, but big guns might already be trained on others such as manufacturing, health and basic education.

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