Why Kenyans Are Making Less Money Online Despite Ruto Push To Pay Content Creators
President William Ruto announced that his administration had struck a deal with Meta for Kenyan creatives to earn through its social media platforms, that is Facebook and Instagram.
The Baraza Media Lab (BML) has revealed how the underwhelming market in Kenya as well as the rest of Africa is making global tech giants such as Google and Spotify among others with monetization mechanisms hesitate to invest in the African market, leading to instances where Kenyans are earning little money online, including from content creation.
Maurice Otieno, Executive Director at Baraza Media Lab was speaking in a recent interview on Trace FM in response to worries by a section of Kenyan content creators regarding earning very little from their craft despite amassing huge numbers in terms of views and listenership.
According to Maurice, the tech companies still see Kenya and other African countries as a small market, given that they make most of their money through advertising, despite millions of users paying for their subscription services globally.
He added that the tech companies strategically set themselves up in African countries with vibrant markets such as South Africa, in adherence to their commercial standards and see the Kenyan market as less important, thus opting not to invest.
Maurice Otieno and Lisa Muchangi from Baraza Media Lab speaking during an interview with Trace FM on February 2, 2024. /TRACE
"Africa as a whole is still a small market for these guys. I think they make most of their money through advertising, not even like maybe subscriptions from individuals, although from a subscription point of view, there are so many people who have paid for these platforms and the market for them is too small.
"If you look at the economics of things, they will be like 'Should I go to London or should I come to Africa..' and that's why, look at where most of their regional headquarters are based. It's so difficult because Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa, West Africa...it is an inconsequential market," he said.
However, Otieno divulged that the social media platforms have functionalities and jurisdictions built within their systems such as tip jars among others, that allow content creators to earn money online from people paying for their content via gifts.
On her part, Lisa Muchangi, the Marketing and Communications Manager at Baraza Media Lab, admitted that monetization remains a major challenge in the country, which has made content creators expand their sources of revenue through online marketing deals with different companies, with a section of them hosting events in which they sell tickets.
"When it comes to monetization, one thing that we have seen with a lot of creators is diversifying their revenue sources, so yes you have your podcast but you also do live podcast recordings that people pay tickets to attend, so that's one angle that doesn't certainly rely on these podcasting platforms," she weighed in.
During his Jamhuri Day speech on December 12, 2023, President William Ruto announced that his administration had struck a deal with Meta for Kenyan creatives to earn through its social media platforms, that is Facebook and Instagram.
The President announced that the deal with Meta was done following a successful pilot program with select eligible creators in the country.
"I have good news for our creatives and those who imagine and produce content through Facebook and Instagram. Just yesterday, Meta committed to helping creators in Kenya earn money for crafting original content.
"Following a pilot programme with eligible creators in the country, Meta will be expanding monetisation opportunities and allowing more creators to earn a living doing what they love," he disclosed, albeit without revealing how much they will earn.
Ruto had first announced a discussion with Meta to monetise local content during the Jamhuri Day celebrations in 2022.
“I have spoken directly to Meta, the parent company of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, to monetize content. If I was not a State officer, I wonder what the content on my small Facebook page would earn me daily,” Ruto stated a year ago to this day.
In October 2023, Meta announced that it would be possible for Kenyans to monetise video reels posted on its platforms. However, Kenyans with huge followings on Facebook and Instagram would be the greatest beneficiaries as payment will be based on engagement including the number of comments, likes and shares.
While the eligibility requirements are bound to change over time, currently monetisation will based on a minimum of 1,000 views.