A BRIEF HISTORY OF MOBILITY IN KAKUMA
Kakuma refugee camp is in Turkana county in North Western Kenya, positioned close to the borders of Ethiopia, South Sudan and Uganda. Built in 1992, it was originally a refuge for Sudanese fleeing persecution. Today the camp has four settlement zones (Kakuma 1 to 4) and is home to over 174,000 refuges from all over the Horn and East of Africa. Conditions in the camp are arid, with temperatures regularly exceeding 30 degrees Celsius in the dry seasons.
Despite its relative isolation, Kakuma refugee camp has increasingly become part of the wider Kenyan economy. In 2017, the camp contributed 3% to Turkana county’s economic output (GDP).
Safaricom, which is Kenya’s largest mobile network operator, is also the primary operator in Kakuma refugee camp. Airtel also provides widespread network coverage in the camp and competes with Safaricom to deliver services.
Kakuma camp has two cell phone towers, located in Kakuma 1 and 2, both installed by Safaricom. Despite the presence of these towers, camp residents suffer from poor network coverage in some zones. While Kakuma 1 and 2 can access Safaricom’s 3G and 4G network, coverage in parts of Kakuma 3 and 4 is more restrictive, resulting in intermediate 2G connectivity.