I’ve been collecting various statistics to measure the growth of major Kenyan cities/towns whereupon I stumbled on an oddity – the city of Kisumu. The 2009 census indicates Kisumu has a population of 409,928 thereby making the city third largest in Kenya . The general principles of economics state that an increase in population leads to increase economic activity – ceteris paribus. However, Kisumu seems to be the classical case of the Malthusian Economic Theory in which rapid population growth leads to reduced economic activity. Let’s look at some numbers.
The image above is a visualization of GitHub users in Africa by city (GitHub is a web application for sharing and storing code). As expected, Nairobi has the lion share of Github users given the tech boom in the city. This is followed by Mombasa, then the population law breaks, third place is Eldoret, followed by Nakuru and at fifth place Kisumu despite Kisumu hosting several universities and a technology hub.
Perhaps this was a flawed methodology of measuring active users since more people would select location as Nairobi yet they actively work from Kisumu. So I set to find another dataset that would dismiss or confirm the trend. Luckily, MobiAds released their report on Mobile user habits in Kenya. Among the analytic breakdown was active users of their mobile app Royalty King per city. As shown in the image below, Kisumu ranks fifth after Nairobi > Mombasa > Nakuru > Eldoret.
The ranking also applies to active users on Facebook. An article published by Techweez on the growing number of active Facebook user puts Kisumu tied at number 5 with Nakuru.
IT matters aside, let’s look at other indicators that best capture the overall economic performance of major cities. The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) publication ‘Statistical Abstract book 2015’ enumerates some of these indicators. In the construction industry, Eldoret, Nakuru, Mombasa and Nairobi recorded more completed housing units for residential and commercial use than Kisumu.
In the aviation sector, Jambo Jet flies 5 times a day to Mombasa, 3 times a day to Eldoret and twice a day to Kisumu. All these figures indicate Kisumu is lagging behind Eldoret and Nakuru in economic development. It worth noting both Eldoret and Nakuru have population size half of Kisumu. Who’s snoozing in the city?
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