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Kenyan Internet Usage Doubles Over 2010, Ministry Says

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Jan. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Kenya’s Internet users more than doubled over the past year as East Africa’s biggest economy invested in fiber-optic cables, Permanent Secretary in the Information Ministry Bitange Ndemo said.

“We now have 7.5 million Internet users compared to 3 million last year,” Ndemo told reporters in Nairobi today.

Over the last 12 months, the number of mobile data users on the network of Safaricom Ltd., East Africa’s biggest mobile-phone company, has grown 52 percent to 4 million users, Chief Operating Officer Peter Arina said at the same briefing.

“Data has proved the next big communication frontier in the Kenyan market,” Arina said.

Seacom Ltd.’s fiber-optic link was the first in East Africa to start operating July 2009, while the East African Marine System, a cable linking 20 African countries and known as Teams, started in October 2009. Teams is owned by the West Indian Ocean Cable Co., a group of 12 African telecommunications companies and four development finance institutions including the International Finance Corp. and the African Development Bank.

Safaricom shares climbed the most in a week, adding 1.2 percent to 4.35 shillings at 2:56 p.m. in Nairobi.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Ombok in Nairobi at eombok@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net.