Kenya’s mobile subscribers continue to grow


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Kenya’s mobile subscribers continue to grow

By Carole Kimutai, Nairobi, Kenya

The Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) has released its quarterly sector statistics report that shows the increase of 59,066 new mobile subscriptions in three months. According to the report, the total number of mobile subscriptions stood at 25.27 million at the end of June 2011. Kenya has a total population of 40 million.

Kenya’s mobile market is dominated by prepaid subscriptions, which represent 99 percent of the total mobile subscriptions. This quarter, postpaid subscriptions grew by 1.18percent compared to 0.02percent for pre-paid subscriptions.

From September 2010 to end of June 2011, Safaricom and Telkom Kenya (Orange) have recorded an increase in subscriber numbers by 148,063 and 11,527 respectively while Airtel Kenya and Essar Telecom Kenya Limited have lost 202,970 and 1,554 subscribers respectively.

Safaricom continues to lead the pack with a total of 17,353,186 subscribers followed by Airtel at 3,614,619, Telkom Kenya at 2,729,016, and Essar at 1,582,947.

Airtel and Essar lost subscribers despite reducing calling charges. Beginning October, Safaricom increased their calling charges by one shilling. Airtel on the other hand announced that it will not increase its calling rates against the backdrop of the current challenging economic environment with high inflation affecting the operational costs for companies and individual customers in Kenya.

Airtel recently relaunched its Airtel Money E-Commerce product with increased agencies offering cash deposit and withdrawal points across the country. It also launched the use MasterCard debit card, PayOnline jointly with MasterCard and Standard Chartered Bank that allows Airtel money customers pay for goods and services on the internet.

The fourth mobile operator, Essar, has waived transaction charges for its money transfer service – yuCash – by introducing a permanent free tariff for its users. As at the end of June 2011, the total amount of deposits made through the mobile phone was recorded at KSh 48 billion.

“The cost of living has really gone up and consumers are experiencing hard times to sustain their socio – economical lifestyles. As such, we are still focused on our low cost model which aims to ensure that communication becomes affordable to all. Our short term strategy is to ensure that our subscribers get to experience the brand,” says Madhur Taneja, yuMobile Country Manager. 

Telkom Kenya which operates under the commercial brand Orange has recorded a steady increase of subscribers over the past six months. According to CCK statistics, Orange subscriber base stood at 2,729,016 as at June 2011, having grown by nearly 600,000 since December 2010.

Mickael Ghossein, Telkom Kenya Chief Executive Officer attributes the growth to a strategy to increase customer focus has seen the firm consistently strive at finding innovative ways to meet existing and future customer needs. “Among other things, have in the past year enhanced our distribution network with the opening of new and well designed shops across the country and effecting positive changes to our customer care department through the training of staff and addressing queries effectively,” Ghossein said.

Telkom is looking at dislodging Airtel from its number two position and being the market leader in data services by the year 2015 through its new 21 Mbps network (3G) and High Definition (HD) voice services.

Calls made

The quarter under review reported 6.24 billion minutes of local calls made on the mobile network against 6.06 billion minutes reported in the previous quarter (January 2011 to March 2011).

Traffic across other mobile networks has continued to grow and by June 2011 it stood at 656 million minutes from 614 million minutes in the previous quarter, representing 6.9percent.  CCK attributes the growth in traffic across networks to tariff reduction that has subsequently seen a reduction in the on-net and off-net tariff differentials.

The quarter registered a decline of mobile to fixed traffic by 7.2%. The downward trend over the last three quarters could be as a result of decreased fixed line subscriptions. However, traffic from fixed to mobile networks increased to 47 million minutes from 35 million minutes reported in the previous quarter. The increase may be attributed to a continued in the mobile telephony subscriptions.

International incoming mobile voice minutes increased by 8percent and international outgoing traffic recorded 2.2percent increase. The continued upward trend in international outgoing traffic could be attributed to reduction in international tariffs. Operators are charging calls to the USA, Canada and China as low as KSh 3 per minute.

Data and internet services

By the end of the quarter under review, there were 4.2 million internet subscriptions. However, mobile operators continue to dominate the internet market with more than 98% of internet market share being through the mobile platform.

At 30th June 2011, there were 121,126 broadband subscriptions in the country, an increase of 35.9%. Although there has been gradual growth in the number of broadband subscriptions, the number represents only 2.8% of the total internet subscriptions.

Total international internet connectivity bandwidth increased to 32,270 Mbps from 20,119Mbps reported in the previous period – a 60.4% increase.

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