Kenyan Farmers’ Use of Cell Phones: Calling preferred over SMS

By Angela Crandell, Karlstad University Studies series: m4d Conference. 2012.

The increasing penetration of mobile phones in Kenya has led to a rise in SMS-based information dissemination services. Such services have potential to reduce information asymmetry and empower farmers with weather, market, and other relevant information. However, a number of factors other than the sheer existence of the phone need to be in place for such potential to be realized. Data was gathered using 117 questionnaires administered in 6 Kenyan provinces, as well as 12 focus groups conducted in 4 locations around Kenya. Findings revealed that Kenyan cell phone users still prefer to call rather than SMS (short message service) due to the ease of calling and little practice using SMS. SMS-based information providers should, therefore, consider adding a voice-based product to their services in order to expand their market reach.