The Communications Commission of Kenya plans to switch off all counterfeit mobile phone handsets on September 30, 2012. This time the regulator, which estimates that Kenya currently hosts 3 million fake phones, may finally walk the disconnection talk after several aborted attempts in 2011.The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), says piracy costs legitimate Kenyan manufacturers losses of over KSh 30 billion and the government KSh 6 billion in foregone taxes annually.
The commission’s press release contained this interesting part: ‘‘…in consultation with representatives from the four mobile operators, mobile phone manufacturers and relevant government ministries and agencies, we will continue to execute this mandate…’’ So, where are the advertising on the internet agencies hiding as other stakeholders, particularly the mobile phone service providers, lobby to mitigate the damage the mass disconnections will have on their profit and loss sections of their balance sheets? And it’s not only on this subject that Kenyan digital marketing agencies’ voices are missing in action.
From the planned Konza City to the TV signals’ analogue-to-digital migration to the 2013 elections, no agency of advertising has exhibited the guts to publicly articulate the digital opportunities and threats these events will present. No, it doesn’t require them to diminish their bank accounts by sponsoring the Kenyan team to the 2012 London Olympics. Engagement can be cost effective. Why, for example, can’t one organise a quiz night where guests can test their knowledge about marketing in Africa or advertising on the internet? Then this occasion can be recorded and uploaded on the firm’s website and social media channels such YouTube. How about one agency or a collection of them visit Kenyan universities and persuade students to consider a career in digital marketing? One result of this proactive action will be to delete the myth from their minds that their future is in making apps. How about lobbying the government to channel a certain percentage of its communications budget to digital marketing?
Mobile advertising in Kenya, one cog in the digital marketing wheel, grew 12% quarter-on-quarter in the first three months of 2012. If Kenya’s advertising on the internet companies don’t act swiftly to claim this territory, then Indian and Chinese agencies will swoop in and eat our nyam chom and leave local agencies to fight over the madondo leftovers, just like they have feasted on the juiciest parts of Kenya’s ICT sector.