AN ASSESSMENT OF INTERNET USAGE ON SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES (SMEs) IN NAKURU TOWN CONSTITUENCY
Kariuki, George James
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The Internet is a useful tool that can be used by entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) alike to market their products/services and considerably reduce costs of doing business. The government of Kenya has invested billions of shillings in laying of fibre optic cables in Kenya, improving Kenya‘s ICT sector and coming up with projects aimed at promoting the adoption of Internet among businesses and citizens alike. With all of these investments, there are challenges that hinder Internet adoption by SMEs such as high Internet access fees, underdevelopment of ICT infrastructure, and many others. The objectives of this research were to establish the level, purposes and benefits of Internet use among the small and medium enterprises in Nakuru Town Constituency. The research consisted of a descriptive survey using a structured questionnaire to collect primary data from a stratified random sample of 386 SMEs selected from the official list of 21,355 registered SMEs. The research made use of 7 out of the 8 major business categories to ensure accuracy and equal representation of the SMEs. Data collected were analyzed and processed using Ms-Excel computer software. The processed information was presented in form of pie-charts, frequency tables, and figures. The study found that 85% of SMEs in Nakuru Town Constituency have not adopted Internet. This was mainly due to lack of ICT infrastructure and low Internet speeds/ signal levels. SMEs with Internet access (15%) used Internet to gather timely and accurate business information, e-commerce, among other purposes. SMEs with Internet access benefited by having their business operating costs lowered, e-commerce, among other benefits. SMEs with Internet access saved costs mainly on marketing and communication. The researcher recommended that the study be conducted on the other constituencies and citizens to accurately describe extent of Internet usage and benefits achieved. Further recommendation was for the ISPs to lower Internet access price, engage in mass awareness programmes and increase the level of ICT infrastructure.