Get your business online or perish

BY DAVID ONJILI

A senior Kenyan politician observed that nobody can stop reggae. He metaphorically meant that nothing was going to interrupt the political plans that he was championing. Yet, the coronavirus pandemic has globally ‘stopped reggae’. 

The virus has killed thousands, grounded commercial flights, crippled and overwhelmed medical facilities across the globe and continues to render many jobless. Businesses are staring at unprecedented times. Is there a Silver lining? Yes. Get your business online.

Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezzos are well known dollar billionaire entrepreneurs who maximized on the internet boom in the early 2000s. Interestingly, with most human-to-human interactions restricted as a World Health Organization (WHO) advised measure to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, many people are coming to appreciate the importance of the internet to their businesses and lives.

We at NBM have experienced this challenge first-hand. I, however, appreciate the foresight of the management to strive and put our content online. By re-developing the website, having a paywall and encouraging digital subscription, the transition to digital reporting in the midst of limited physical magazines has almost been seamless. Our dedicated readers have had the same magazine content through the website and social media platforms. 

While we embrace the internet, we must be careful about hacking. Standard Charted Bank stopped its employees from using Google hangouts and Zoom after they discovered that hackers had infiltrated into their systems. 

Whereas many readers continue to attach some sentiment in flipping through pages, investing in a good website avails the same material for them online. 

Early this year, telecommunications giant Safaricom tested the 5G network in several localities within Nairobi. Kenya joined several nations that are adopting the technology, which promises faster and cheaper internet speeds to consumers. The importance of reliable and affordable internet cannot be gainsaid, also noting the laying of fibre optic cable which the country has greatly adopted. From broadband to home fibre to cellular internet data, more and more Kenyans are connecting to the internet.

The 2019 National Census by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) showed that 20 million Kenyans have cell phones with a majority being women. One in every five Kenyans has access to the internet, and only 3.7% of Kenyans engage in e-commerce. Those numbers are a wakeup call to policy makers who have always painted the country as a Silicon Savannah. Interestingly, the rise of companies like Glovo, Uber Eats and eateries doing home deliveries during the coronavirus period should make for interesting analysis.

Most Kenyans access the internet through their cell-phone, data packages from the various mobile phone providers have at times raised issues on exploitation. Provision of data bundles that expire after 24 hours whether the user has depleted them or not continues to hurt many Kenyans.

Certain websites like jiji.co.ke that promote e-commerce are also swarmed by criminals. Those who run such platforms must be put to task for allowing criminal elements into their platforms.

YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok are all social media sites that when utilised wisely will make you a few bucks. Kenya, like the rest of the world has seen many of its citizens use these platforms to educate and entertain the masses while the content producers make money to earn a decent living.

Whether you are a comedian, musician, cook or even a teacher, the internet is the new classroom. More and more citizens are turning to the internet for both entertainment and education. Setting up a YouTube channel is as easy as abc, simply open a Google email account and link it to YouTube. Shoot good quality videos using a phone or a digital camera, upload and make sure that you do not infringe on copyrights of any music you use on the movie. Promote your work on the various social media pages you have. YouTube will require that you have more than 1000 subscribers and more than 4000 view hours before you can monetize your videos.

More and more companies are also using social media and social media content producers to market their products. They have exited the traditional advertising; TV, radio, newspapers and billboards. This explains why most Kenyans are usually glued to their phones.

While we embrace the internet, we must also be careful about hacking. Standard Charted Bank stopped its employees from using Google hangouts and Zoom after they discovered that hackers had infiltrated into their systems. We must also protect our children from sex predators; password protection from certain websites can be helpful.

The connectivity of the world has really been grown by the internet and it would be foolhardy for any business to lack a visible online presence in this day and age.   

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