Thousands of Christian faithful hoping to follow the Sunday church service on March 22, could not fulfill their obligations to their religion as the country comes to terms with the impact of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.
Several churches around the country had opted to only livestream their services over the internet in line with the government’s directive to reduce large public gatherings.
While commendable, only a handful of Kenyans were able to follow sermons from their specific churches due to the prohibitive cost of Internet in the country, especially when cost of watching live videos is considered.
With the Communications Authority of Kenya estimating that Kenya has about 40 million internet users in 2019, it would be conceivable that the hurdles occasioned by Covid-19 would find virtual solutions ver the internet. However, CAK’s statistics have been disputed for not acknowledging the many Kenyans who have multiple SIM-cards.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) reported that only 26% of Kenyans were online in in 2016, a figure echoed by the World Bank.
Going by this, a significant portion of believers were locked out of the Sunday Service as only those with access to a reliable and affordable internet connection were able to access the Sunday service.
The Redeemed Christian Church of God Solution Centre counted among the churches that asked faithful to follow its services online.
“As a church, we are taking immediate steps to ensure that we comply with government instructions and ensure we do not lose fellowship with God. We therefore urge our members and friends to join us on our various social media platforms for online services beginning this Sunday from 11 a.m.,” stated Pastor Obasike explaining the church’s digital migration.
The Anglican Church of Kenya also suspended its Sunday Services for 30 days in playing its part to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
In line with this, the church announced that Archbishop Jackson ole Sapit would be conducting special broadcast services on Sundays at 8 a.m. and Wednesday at 6.00 p.m.
“This will be streamed live on the official Archbishop and ACK Facebook pages [and] other platforms. Additionally, we encourage the use of technology in the ministry,” stated the ACK archbishop.
The Catholic Church has, however, opted to charter its won contrarian path. A statement issued by the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) stated that Holy Mass would continue in all its churches.
Staunch believers have been forced to grapple with how to honour church rituals and simultaneously adhere to directives to avoid crowded spaces.
Under these considerations, the necessity of a working internet connection has grown increasingly clear.
Understanding this needs, some corporates, such as Safaricom have offered faster internet speeds to those subscribed to the home fiber packages.
This is envisioned to allow those working from home or forced to quickly embrace digital means, to access the internet comfortable and effectively.