The digital class of 2000

A generation born 20 years ago when the new millennium ushered in mobile phone revolution has grown with Safaricom. It finds it hard to live without tech gadgets.

22 Oct 2020 . 692 Views

They were born at the dawn of the mobile telephony in Kenya. As the world ushered in a new millennium and mothers went into labour to deliver this crop of Kenyans, most countries in the world were in a watershed moment technology-wise.

Computers were getting cheaper and more available while mobile phones, though expensive then, became a common possession. August 2000 saw Kenya’s first mobile company, Kencell, open its doors. Safaricom would start operations that October, sparking a competition for customers that Safaricom eventually won.

As such, the group of Kenya’s 20-year-olds has literally grown up with mobile telephony in Kenya. When they were in lower primary, social media became a global phenomenon, placing mobile data at the core of mobile phone company operations.

With most of them currently pursuing tertiary education, the class of 2000 is in its early adult life in a world with advanced gadgets and mobile networks, with most territories now warming to 5G networks.

We spoke to not one, not two, but 20 of these young Kenyans on getting their first phones, their opinion on the digital age and how they relate with Safaricom.

Sydney Njau
Engineering student, University of Nairobi
Born: January 2000
I got my first phone in 2010. It was a cool Samsung flip phone. I buy the Daily Giga Bundle from Safaricom, which is cheaper and more convenient. It’s also first enough for social media, gaming streaming Formula 1 during racing weekends. I visit Instagram, WhatsApp and Snapchat daily. For my love of anime, I am often on Gogoanime. For updates on events, I also read the Economist. While the 2GB hourly bundle is convenient, I wish I had home fibre. My most memorable Safaricom event is the Jazz Festival and the evening live shows Safaricom sometimes hosts in Westlands. Our relationship is beyond transactional. I’ve seen it grow as I was growing. I feel at home with the brand. I’ve used two Safaricom lines since I got my first phone.

Emmanuel Kimaru
Born: July 2000
Linguistics and Media student, Moi University
My first phone was a Nokia Lumia, which I got after KCPE as a present for good performance. I started with a Yu line then Airtel and later Safaricom in a space of less than a month. I first registered the line using my uncle’s credentials because I didn’t have an ID. I’m a fan of Safaricom mostly because of M-Pesa. If I were to imagine life without mobile phones, I think it would be boring but not dull. The problem with mobile phones is that it alienates people. As a writer, I like to interact with people and get into their world, but distractions about. In a crowd, you will find everyone on their phones. Mobile phones remove the colour.

Valare Okeyo
Procurement student, Maseno University
Born: September 2000
I first owned a phone, an Itel, when I was 14. Academic content, videos on YouTube and chatting on Facebook and WhatsApp consume the bulk of my Daily Data, which I buy at either Sh20 or Sh40. During my birthday last month, Safaricom awarded me 1GB data bundle, which was a good gesture. My favourite part is the ability to borrow airtime and data through Okoa Jahazi whenever I have insufficient funds. Their internet is strong and available in most parts of the country. After six years, I consider myself a loyal subscriber, with three Safaricom lines in the process.

Jimmy Ndungu
Economics student, Meru University of Science and Technology
Born: March 18, 2000
The first phone was a Huawei, which I got in 2016. My data consumption is modest: I buy the 70MB data bundle at Sh20, with several renewals across the day, to chat with friends on WhatsApp and for online classes. I enjoy Safaricom’s numerous promos and their freebies during important occasions such as birthdays. It’s especially hard to imagine life without mobile money services. Being 20 feels like a wildfire. I suddenly have to make choices that will determine the life that I lead, which is exciting and scary at the same time.

Samiyah Aweys
Student, North Eastern Polytechnic
Born: May 2000
I got my first phone, an iPhone, at the age of 18. This was in 2018 after finishing Form Four. My strict parents couldn’t get me one before that. I have been using Safaricom and I am a big customer of their data offerings.

Maria Njoroge
Information Science student, Moi University
Born: January 2000
I got my first phone, an Infinix, when I was 18. It was a gift from my aunt. My first line was from Safaricom, and that’s still my network because of fast internet connectivity and of course M-Pesa. Life would have been very hard without mobile phones, which have shortened the distance people have to travel to interact, for instance video calls.

Fabian Thuranira
Footballer with Karieni Rangers, Meru
Born: May 2000
I was 12 when I got my first phone, a Nokia, alongside a Safaricom line; not the one I use now, though. I’ve stuck with Safaricom because of the reliability of their services, chiefly the internet access. Life would have been boring without mobile phones.

Lilian Nyambura
First year student, Meru University
Born: December 2000
My first phone was a Nokia, which I got in 2018. I was in Form Three at the time. I’m a consumer of the Blaze bundles for the youth from Safaricom. But whenever I want to download large files, I buy the hourly Tunukiwa 2GB bundle at Sh50. I download apps from the Google PlayStore, download and watch videos, chat with friends, video-call family and follow updates of the English Premier League. My relationship with Safaricom has been, in the words of their slogan, simple, transparent and honest. We trust each other. I have had five Safaricom lines so far, which I sometimes think is a lot.

Elvis Manani Ondieki
Information Technology student, Maseno University
Born: December 2000
I got my first phone at 18, after Form Four. It was an Itel device that was gifted to me by my teacher for good performance in KCSE. My first line was Safaricom, and it’s the one I still have. They have a good network in my home area in Nyamira County and in most places. I also like their promotions like the free 500MB offer. Life without mobile phones would have been difficult and communication would have been a nightmare.

Pauline Wangui
Commerce student, KCA University
Born: August 2000
I got my first phone in 2015, a Huawei my father bought me. My first line was Safaricom, which I am using till now. I have never got around getting another line because everyone who has my contact has this one. The Safaricom service I like most is M-Pesa. A life without mobile phones would have been hell because we do everything on our phones. Right now we are even studying using our phones.

Elizabeth Ndanu
Student, St Paul’s University
Born: November 2000
I got my first phone, a Samsung Z2, when I was 15 years old, in Form Two. My parents bought it for me. I have been using a Safaricom line since then.

Hamida Ibrahim
Pharmacy student, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology
Born: September 2000
My first phone was a Samsung J7. I got it in December 2018 after completing Form Four. Growing up in Nakuru County, my parents believed getting a phone before then would be a distraction in my studies. I have been using Safaricom mostly, for calls and internet access. I just can’t imagine how difficult life must have been before mobile phones. Mobile telephony makes things pretty easy.

Naomi Nyakerario
Student, Kisii Polytechnic
Born: January 2000
I first owned a phone in 2018. It was a Samsung J10 that my elder brother bought me. It’s hard to imagine life without mobile phones. There is the immediacy we enjoy now, which was hard to come by before mobiles. Imagine writing a letter appealing for financial help then waiting for ages for it to be delivered and even longer to receive the assistance you needed.

Adrian Adagi
Digital strategist, Chiromo Mental Health Hospital
Born: June 2000
I was 10 when I got my first phone, a Samsung Galaxy. My first line was Safaricom. I would later try other networks but later I returned to Safaricom, owing to its reliability. I can’t start to imagine the life earlier generations lived without mobile phones. Like in my case, my personal and professional life revolves around my phone. Without it, there would be no entertainment, no news, no connecting with people around me. It would be a great inconvenience.

Linus Muchoki
Footballer with Gogo Boys in Kibera, Nairobi
Born: May 2000
I was 14 years old when I got my first phone, a Huawei given to me by my parents. My first line was Safaricom, and it’s the one I’m using to date. Its network is stronger than most networks at my home county of Meru and many other places in Kenya. My parents grew up in the generation of landlines and letters, and I think such a life was challenging, having to queue and all. With mobile telephony, life is smoother.

Brenda Kaimenyi
Food Science Student at Technical University of Kenya
Born: February 2000
I was 14 and in Form One when I got my first phone, a “Kaduda” phone from my sister. My first line was Safaricom, which I have stuck with because most of my contacts use Safaricom and also this is the line people associate me with. Life would have been hard without mobile phones, because a person would have to look for others in person to pass a message.

Victor Rioba
Computer Science student and model, Moi University
Born: July 2000
I was in Standard Four when I got my first phone, a BlackBerry and it was due to the fact that my parents used to travel to distant places and leave us at home. We would use the phone to communicate with them. I got my first Safaricom line when I was in Class Eight, and it was my mother’s. I have changed lines quite a bit since then, but I’m still on Safaricom. One of the most outstanding features of Safaricom is their data service. I love the Power Hour and Tunukiwa bundles because they help me download videos.

Diana Chome
Nursing student, KMTC Kabarnet campus
Born: April 2000
I got my first phone, a Nokia, when I was 19. I bought it from the money I made from teaching at a school in Kashani, Mombasa County, after sitting my KCSE. My first and current line is Safaricom. It is easy to use.

Edgar Moses Osengo
Procurement and Logistics student, KCA University
Born: May 2000
I got my first phone, a HTC, from my parents in 2017. My first line was Safaricom. I have changed some along the way but I’ve remained with Safaricom, and one of their services that appeals most to me is the feature for getting free call minutes by dialling *444#. A life without mobile phones would have been characterised by limited communication. We would still need to write letters, go to the post office, and take like two days to receive those addressed to us. Letters are not reliable because they can get lost.

Ivy Cherono Kemboi
Law student, Kabarak University
Born: April 2000
I got my first phone at 17, after Form Four. It was a Tecno my mother bought me by my mother. Safaricom was my first number and it’s the one I’m still using for it is reliable. Life without phones would have been boring. I wouldn’t have been able to access the knowledge I have now.

This story was first published in the Nation Africa  and is part of the Safaricom@20 celebrations. For 20 years, Safaricom has developed new technologies and innovations to support and enable Kenyans to communicate, connect and to go beyond.

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