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Massive fall in hardcopy newspaper readership as online visitors surge

Massive fall in hardcopy newspaper readership as online visitors surge

As the world fully migrates into the digital space, it is now easy to draw a line where the future of newspapers now lies.

From the year 2016, newspaper readership has reduced significantly pausing a threat for the future of newspapers.

In 2020, newspaper circulation declined as a majority of users preferred digital newspapers.

According to a survey by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) economic survey 2021, 62.9 million English daily copies were circulated compared to 77.9 million copies circulated in 2019.

In the year under review, the average number of online visitors per day increased by 28.0 percent to stand at 3.7 million in 2020.

For the weekly newspaper, circulation of English copies dropped from 11,582,000 in the year 2019 to 9,890,000 in the subsequent year, whereas only 935,000 Kiswahili copies were circulated. There was no circulation of Kiswahili copies in 2020 after they were suspended.

Upon the advent of the coronavirus pandemic in Kenya on March 13, 2020, Kenyans were encouraged to stay and work from home as a key measure to curb the spread of the virus.

This saw mobile penetration in the country increase by 12.35 percentage points to 136.12 subscriptions in 2020 from 123.77 subscriptions in 2019.

The total number of digital subscriptions increased by 7.2 percent in 2020 a turnaround from a decrease of 11.5 percent recorded in 2019.

“The increase was attributed to the restrictions of movement of persons which resulted in more people staying at home and hence the demand for broadcast entertainment.”

Internet As Employer

The usage of the internet in 2020 increased as most social interactions, learning activities, entertainment among others embraced online platforms mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the period under review, the number of licensed Internet Service Providers (ISPs) increased by 21.2 percent to 366.

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Terrestrial mobile subscriptions rose by 11.6 percent to 43.7 million while wireless data subscriptions increased by 44.4 percent to 103,598 in the same period.

This was also boosted by the Google loon services offered in unconnected parts of Kenya which provided wider signal coverage.

Total fixed-wired internet subscriptions rose by 35.5 percent to 579, 449 with Fibre optic growing by 49.0 percent to 400,355 subscriptions in 2020.

But even though the economy was negatively affected by the pandemic, causing a slowed growth to most sectors, IPS registered a 9.6 percent growth to Ksh.40.0 billion in 2020 down from Ksh.36.5 billion in 2019.

Value of investment by the telecommunication operators declined by 38.2 percent to Ksh.35.6 billion with the number of employees in the sector increasing marginally from 8,639 in 2019 to 8,728 in 2020.

Revenue from telecommunication operators increased from Ksh.283.2 billion in 2019 to Ksh.285.1 billion in 2020.

However, Kenya’s output or Gross Domestic Product (GDP) took a hit to decline by 0.3 percent in 2020.

The economy contracted for the first time in nearly three decades as the coronavirus pandemic hit the key sectors, including tourism, education, transport and manufacturing.

The economy has been projected to rebound by 6 percent in 2021, but the National Treasury Ukur Yatani noted that the future is not clear because of the uncertainties resulting from the pandemic.

Kenya’s economy last shrank in 1992, when it contracted by 0.3 percent.

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Lawrence Baraza is a prolific writer with competencies in Digital Media, Print, and Broadcast. Baraza is also a Communication Practitioner currently spearheading Digital content on Metropol TV's Digital Desk.

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