STATISTICS

Reopening of schools in January leads to drop in internet subscriptions–CA

In 2020 when students did online learning due to school closure, the subscriptions grew significantly

In Summary
  • According to Q3 2021 sector report, the total number of internet subscriptions dropped 1.5 per cent to 43.7 million, from 44.4 million during the second quarter.
  • In the third quarter, Safaricom recorded the highest market share in terms of mobile data subscription with 68.2 per cent
Student learns from home with laptop, textbook and smartphone.
ONLINE LEARNING: Student learns from home with laptop, textbook and smartphone.
Image: COURTESY

The resumption of physical learning in schools from January saw internet subscriptions decline significantly, latest data from the Communication Authority(CA) shows.

According to Q3 2021 sector report, the total number of internet subscriptions dropped 1.5 per cent to 43.7 million, from 44.4 million during the second quarter.

CA attributed the decline is on the increase in inactive mobile internet subscriptions following the resumption of physical learning in schools from the beginning of the year.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country in March 2020, schools were closed and the government recommended online learning for students who stayed home for close to 9 months.

This saw internet subscriptions surge 5.1 per cent between April and June as demand for the service surged amid the stay-at-home measures, according to CA .

Subscriptions increased to 40.9 million in the quarter ending June 2020 from 38.9 million in the period ending March, sector data shows.

The Authority noted that this growth was attributed learners continued access to e-content and lessons at home following the closure of schools.

For the July to December period, the internet subscriptions grew further to 43.4 million as the demand for online services grew.

In January 2021, the country's Covid-19 situation was controlled and this saw schools reopen and e-learning came to a halt thus the drop in data subscriptions in the third quarter.

In the third quarter, Safaricom recorded the highest market share in terms of mobile data subscription with 68.2 per cent, Airtel had 25.9 per cent while Telkom's share was 5.1 per cent.

Jamii Telecommunications Limited and Equitel Ltd recorded the least market share at 0.4 per cent.

Safaricom also continued to dominate the fixed data subscriptions market taking 35.8 per cent of the market share with 255,594 subscribers.

The telco was followed by Wananchi Group at 30.3 per cent(216,219,) then Jamii telcommunications ltd at 19 per cent(135,602)

During the quarter under review, total broadband subscriptions stood at 25.76 million, down from 25.77 million subscriptions reported in the preceding quarter.

The number of 3G broadband subscriptions declined to 13.3 million from 14.3 million subscriptions posted last quarter whereas, 4G broadband subscriptions grew by 8.3 in the referenced period to post 11.7 million subscriptions.

The decline in 3G subscriptions was also attributed to the increase in inactive mobile data subscriptions following the resumption of physical learning in schools from the beginning of the year.

The total number of short messages sent between January and March 2021 stood at 10.6 billion, down from 14.2 billion messages sent between October and December 2020.

CA also attributed this to the increase in number of inactive SIM cards due to the resumption of physical learning.

Safaricom continued to maintain remain the biggest telco during the period growing its market share t0 64.4 per cent from 63.6 per cent in the previous quarter, while Airtel's market share dropped to 26.6 per cent from 27.2 per cent.

Equitel also had a drop in market share from 2.7 per cent to 2.5 per cent while Telkom and Jamii Telecommunications remained at 6.2 and 0,3 per cent respectively.

Airtel’s market share for calls also fell for the third consecutive quarter, hurting the telco’s efforts to close the gap on the dominant Safaricom.

CA data shows that the telco’s share of the voice market fell to 27.1 per cent or 5.3 billion minutes in the quarter ended March from 28.5 percent (5.6 billion minutes) in December.

Safaricom increased its dominance to 70.9 percent or 13.8 billion minutes in the period under review from 69.2 per cent (13.5billion) in December last year.

The Authority noted that the telecommunications sector remains intrinsic to the country’s economic growth, with data infrastructure becoming an essential enabler for other sectors.