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Kenya is one of Nokia’s longest-standing and most valuable markets in Africa. Nokia’s General Manager for East Africa, Bruce Howe, says it’s the ‘powerhouse of the region’. It’s also the fifth country to get a local Nokia Life service, following successful launches in India, China, Indonesia and Nigeria.

Kenya has a population of a little over 40 million people. With 65 per-cent living in rural areas, and with a similar level of mobile phone penetration, there are many who are in need of news and practical information that’s hard to obtain through means other than a mobile phone.

The Nokia Life service uses an installed app and SMS messaging to create an almost web-app-like experience for users.

“We’ve learned that it’s absolutely essential to deliver the service in local languages,” says Bruce.

The service launches in English and Swahili, an advantage Bruce points to as a big differentiator between Nokia and other suppliers.

The Kenyan Nokia Life service is focused around four areas: healthcare, education, entertainment and political news. Bruce notes that a passionate interest in political affairs is very common in Kenya. But while printed newspapers are often prohibitively expensive, the Nokia Life service allows people to remain up-to-date on the issues and debates through an affordable and trustworthy source.


Nokia has also worked with local and international partners to ensure the mix of content is right for Kenya. Partners include the British Council for English-language learning, Plan for healthcare advice, and local media organisations for news and entertainment information.

“The information isn’t just an off-the-shelf generic mix. It’s 100 per-cent localised and relevant,” says Bruce.

Similarly, Nokia has worked with local operators like Safaricom and Airtel to help ensure that they can provide affordable packages for their customers.

By now, over 95 million customers have tried the Nokia Life service, making it one of the biggest SMS-based services of its kind in the world.

Bruce notes the transformative value of Nokia Life:

“Very often our customers for this service have got a phone that can basically do two things: make phone calls and SMS. When you add Nokia Life to that, it’s adding a massive 50 per-cent more functionality to their phone.

“And it can make a very real difference for customers. When you consider this service can guide a rural woman safely through pregnancy, that’s real value.”

image credit: whiteafrican

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