Purpose – Usage of internet and mobile phones has promoted and sometimes hindered various aspects of development bringing radical changes to Kenyan households in the last couple of years. The rapid spread of mobile phones, mobile broadband and internet usage at the household level has increased the potential of these technologies leading to development outcomes. This paper aims to focus on these issues.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper is based on primary data collected through two surveys and is part of ongoing PhD work. A rigorous methodology was designed and used to conduct the research. Starting with the research problem that outlined the key areas for the study, research objectives were developed following a background review of the study. The paper establishes the development outcomes associated with the rapid spread and usage of the internet and mobile phones and explores if the wide usage expands or shrinks the capabilities of the households.
Findings – The analysis indicates that a high value is attached to the new technologies and in particular mobile phones. It also reveals that the new technologies enabled some capabilities and hindered others leading to diverse development outcomes. Use of internet and mobile phones led to positive and negative development outcomes in low income households in Kenya. Households' choices were based on their perceptions of the role that the new technologies played in enhancing their quality of life. Internet access and usage was limited and restricted to urban areas while mobile phone usage was distributed across the country. However, increased use of mobile internet is expected to change the situation. The paper notes that the social, economic and knowledge status of individuals, coupled with the choices they make, determines the development outcomes derived from use of these technologies.
Research limitations/implications – The paper makes recommendations for further research on the effects of new technologies on quality of life.
Originality/value – The paper examines the extent to which usage of the internet and mobile phones enhances or hinders households' capability to achieve development in social, economic and knowledge dimensions.