Safaricom, Telkom market share up as Airtel stagnates

Total SIM card subscriptions in the market were 65.5 million in Q1.

Paul Kipaika, a pupil at Torosei Primary School in Kajiado attempts to search for mobile network on top of a tree.PHOTO/FILE
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In Summary

•Safaricom now controls 66 per cent of the country’s mobile (SIM) subscriptions.

•Airtel has a 26.3% market share, Telkom(4.9%) while Finserve (Equitel) has a 2.3 per cent share.

Safaricom has increased its market share in Kenya’s mobile services as subscriptions hit 50.2 million in September.

This is an increase from 41.9 million in a similar period last year, stamping its position as he market leader.

Latest Communication Authority (CA) data shows Telkom Kenya has also gained with subscriptions growing to 4.1 million in the first quarter of the current financial year (July-September).

Airtel Kenya has stagnated at 17.1 million subscribers even as SIM card subscriptions in the market increased to 65.5 million from 64.7 million in the previous quarter, a period the country had a fresh ownership registration drive.

The number of mobile money subscriptions also increased to 37.4 million up from 37.2 million in June.

“The quarter under review was marked by increased activity across mobile network platforms due to the busy electioneering period,” CA said in its quarterly report released on Wednesday.

The growth of of 1.2 per cent translated to a mobile (SIM) penetration level of 132.5 per cent.

Safaricom now controls 66 per cent of the country’s mobile (SIM) subscriptions, Airtel (26.3%), Telkom(4.9%) while Finserve (Equitel) has a 2.3 per cent share.

Jamii Telecommunications remains at the bottom of the market with a 0.5 per cent share.

M-Pesa dominates the mobile money market with a 96.8 per cent share with Airtel Money and T-Cash by Telkom having a meagre share of 3.1 per cent and 0.1 per cent, respectively. 

Meanwhile, feature phones continue to dominate Kenya’s mobile telephone usage, CA data shows, despite the rising number of cheaper smartphones being availed by companies.

As of September 30, this year, there were 60.7 million mobile phone devices connected to mobile networks.

Of these, 32.9 million were feature phones while 27.9 million were smartphones.

The penetration rates for feature phones and smartphones as a percentage of the total population was 66.5 and 56.4 percent respectively.

In a similar quarter last year, the total number of feature phones that had been connected to the network were 33 million, with smart phones accounting for 26 million gadgets.

While there has been a growth in smartphones and a slight reduction in feature phones when compared to same quarter last year, the market has in recent times been flooded with earlier generations of mobile telephones, with their demand still high.

“What we are seeing is that most people still want to have the ‘mulika mwizi’ (old generation phones) for business and calls while smartphones are for internet-based activities,” Meshack Mwaura, a Nairobi-based phones dealer told the Star.

As mobile money continues to gain popularity among businesses and public institutions, the number of subscriptions continued to increase with the reference period recording 37.4 million, from 37.2 million reported during the preceding period.

This represented a penetration level of 75.7 percent.

There has also been an increase in the use of short messages services and domestic SMS traffic grew by 1.8 percent to record 14.23 billion from 14.0 billion messages reported in the preceding quarter.

This comes even as platforms such as WhatsApp and Telegram continue to be popular.

The average minutes of use per call for on-net and off-net local mobile voice traffic stood at 1.6 and 1.0 minutes respectively, with Airtel customers spending more time on a single on-net call averaging 2.7 minutes.

Telkom Kenya and Equitel customers recorded the highest average minutes of use per off net call, attributed to their lower calling rates.

The country continues to lead within the region in terms of general ICT infrastructure, mobile financial services, and broadband connectivity, value added services and FinTech services, CA notes.

Earlier in the year, the government launched its ten-year Digital Masterplan 2022-2032, in a bid to enhance the country’s digital economy and ICTs primed as a key driver for the developmental agenda across other sectors.

“The roll out of commercial 5G network which enables consumers to access super-fast data services together with improved fibre network connectivity, and rapid developments in the mobile market is expected to spur growth in various areas of the economy,” CA said.

In addition, it will promote and drive the government agenda on leveraging technology to access public and private sector innovation.

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