Kenyan Internet portal race is already out of the blocks.
Its becoming increasingly apparent that the soon to be operational high speed undersea data cables that will connect Kenya to the rest of the world are fueling the emergence of local Internet portals. These developments are an obvious move to capitalize on the fact that Kenya currently has very limited content online and inasmuch as we will soon have warp speed internet speeds, there is a gaping hole to be plugged where local content is concerned.
The mushrooming of local Kenyan Internet portals will no doubt favor the first movers in this space, giving them an advantage of sorts. However, what I have learnt in over 10 years of building and managing web sites is that even if a web site is poorly developed, for as long as it has the required information, it will have traffic. In this respect, I may not have much to get excited about in terms of design and development of the Kenyan Internet portals but they seem to have content that matters. Here is the list of Kenyan internet portals that I found to be noteworthy:
Home.co.ke is an initiative of AccessKenya, one of Kenya’s leading Internet Service Providers. Home.co.ke is essentially an online magazine covering a broad range of topics and themes. It also has an online business directory and an e-marketplace. It appears that AccessKenya is investing significant resources in terms of content generation by what appears to be a full squad of editorial contributors. It seems that home.co.ke already has a substantive amount of advertising on it in the form of display ads, meaning that the site is probably already being monetized. From a first mover perspective, home.co.ke seems like a winner if they can capitalize on the fact that they are first out of the blocks.
Butterfly.co.ke is a portal from Kenya Data Networks (KDN). The portal in question is less of a magazine-like approach as is home.co.ke and more of a pure archetypal internet portal. It has various features such as online classifieds, yellow pages, personals, jobs, videos, blogs and various e-marketplaces for cars and real estate. The overall presentation of the web site doesn’t really “grab” you but it does have all of the functionality you would expect from a Internet portal. Butterfly.co.ke has limited advertising at this juncture so chances are its not making as much money (yet) as home.co.ke may be doing.
Nairobist.com is an initiative of Nairobist Media. The portal has a classifieds section, stock market information, lifestyle content and a professional networking section. Nairobist.com, as its name suggests is largely focussed on Nairobi-specific content and information including jobs, classifieds, directory, city guide, photo sharing, etc. It has a fairly clean and simple design that is easy on the eye. Nairobist.com also has a very popular e-newsletter that makes its rounds every month to Kenyans at home and in the Diaspora. In terms of advertising, Nairobist.com does not seem to have much at this time but this can be expected to change in time.
Kenyabuzz.com is another portal that features a magazine-like format similar to home.co.ke. The site has the advantage of being a content contributor to the Business Daily Newspaper with a weekly entertainment guide. At the same time, Kenyabuzz.com also has a fairly popular e-newsletter that is circulated on a weekly basis. The site’s content features classifieds, directory, guides, events, etc. They also seem to have an in-house editorial team like home.co.ke and as such are generating a substantive amount of original content for the portal. Off all the portals reviewed, Kenyabuzz.com probably has the most pleasant and well-balanced design.