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Affordability is one of the primary barriers to internet access, and particularly to optimal use. Knowing this fully from our previous research, Research ICT Africa (RIA) conducted focus groups in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Rwanda in November 2016. The task at hand for this Mozilla-funded research, part of the Equal Rating project, was to obtain qualitative information that reflects the perceptions of female and male internet users, new users, and non-internet users – from different (urban and rural) locations. The study focused on how people used the internet when they had their data subsidised, and when it was not subsidised.

Before I can even begin to dissect the findings, the first question that comes to mind is why this particular methodology? Why did we choose to go with a qualitative approach over a quantitative approach? The purpose of our study was to collect information that reflects local perceptions about how people use the internet when they have their data subsidised and when they do not. In this instance we wanted to let people tell their stories and gain understanding into their reflections. Secondly, there was a need to further understand, from their perspective factors influencing internet use and the strategies employed in order to be able to access and use data for different purposes. We wanted to hear people’s thoughts on the question at hand and with this in mind, we settled on a qualitative approach.

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