Letter writing kept alive in Kenya despite rise in internet use
04 October 2016, 08:32
Nairobi - Twenty-four-year-old Vincent Lukabo unsealed the brown envelope keenly and blew in some air to open it up before folding a typed letter and placing in.
He, thereafter, sealed the envelope with glue and handed it to his elder brother who was to send it for him at a post office in the city center in Nairobi, Kenya's capital.
Lukabo, who lives in Komarock on the east of Nairobi, was responding to a job advert he had seen in a local daily.
"In the advert they had said one can send the application on email or via a letter. I preferred to start with the latter then send the email application just before the deadline expires. With the letter, I am assured they would read it but with email, someone can delete," he said Sunday.
The Bachelor of Commerce graduate, who is searching for a job, is among tens of Kenyans who have kept letter writing alive in the East African nation despite advent of digital communication technologies like email, SMSs and free message apps.
The tradition, which many consider obsolete thanks to the internet, has seemingly refused to die, with the number of letters sent in Kenya recording a rise.
Latest statistics from the Communication Authority of Kenya (CAK) point to the resilience of the mode of communication, with the number of letters sent between April and June rising by close to 30 percent.
During the quarter, Kenyans sent 17 million letters, an increase of about 4 million letters from the previous three months.
"The number of letters posted locally increased substantially by 29.2 percent to reach 16.6 million up from 12.8 million posted last quarter. Throughout the financial year under review, 60 million letters were sent, which marked an increase of 1 percent from the previous financial year," said the CAK in the report released last week .
Since the arrival of instant messaging technologies, the number of letters sent in Kenya has usually been rising in the September-December quarter, when citizens send success cards to Form Four and Class Eight pupils in primary and secondary schools.
The upsurge in the second quarter, therefore, is an indication that Kenyans are perhaps finding new reasons to send letters.
Besides job applications and sending success cards, Kenyans receive their bank statements, utility bills and stocks market information via letters.
Analysts, however, isolate job applications and sending success cards as dominant forms of communications that have kept letter writing alive in the East African nation.
"When it comes to jobs, most companies still insist on applications being made in writing to cut costs on their part because if emails are sent, they would have to print them, which becomes expensive. And with thousands of people jobless, hundreds of letters are sent by jobseekers every day," said Bernard Mwaso, an information technology consultant with Edell IT Solutions.
He noted that letters still reign because one cannot use technologies like SMSs and WhatsApp messages to send official communication.
"My take is that letter writing will continue to exist side by side with instant communication technologies."