yu gains market share, Safaricom cedes ground

By Semaj Itosno, Nairobi, Kenya

Kenya’s leading mobile operator, Safaricom lost market share by subscriber numbers to its rivals in the period ending March this year, new data from the Kenya’s industry regulator shows.

Latest statistics from the Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) show that even though all operators registered growth in subscription numbers, overall, Safaricom’s share of the mobile telephony market declined by 1.3 percentage points while Essar, trading as yu; gained the largest market share of 0.8 percentage points.

In terms of new subscriptions, yu posted the highest growth of 14.5%, representing 324,284 new subscriptions; bringing its total customer base to 2.55 million users.

“The tremendous growth in the new subscriptions by Essar Telecom Kenya Limited could be attributed to increased promotional and special offers targeting the youth that were offered during the period,” said CCK in a statement. Telkom Kenya and Airtel Kenya slightly grew their share of the mobile market to 10.6 and 15.3% respectively.

The highest gain in absolute values was recorded as 386,777 new subscriptions by Safaricom which represented a quarterly growth of 2.1%. Telkom Kenya and Airtel Kenya gained 209,447 and 210,370 new subscriptions.

Kenya’s mobile penetration is now at 74%, up from 71.3% recorded at the end of December 2011; attributed to operators’ increased focus to offer competitive and innovative products and services to attract customers coupled with increasing demand from the population.

The report also shows that most Kenyans are accessing the Internet through mobile phones which accounts for 98.8% of the total Internet and data subscriptions. The number of Internet users now stands at 11.8 million; a growth of 4.7% from the 11.3 million users posted in December last year.

The recent Ericsson report showed that Africa’s mobile subscriptions have grown by more than 30 million during the first quarter of 2012 and more than 9 billion mobile subscriptions will be achieved compared to 6 billion registered at the end of 2011.

Released in Nairobi recently, Ericsson’ s Traffic and Market report showed that mobile broadband subscriptions would reach 5 billion by 2017, compared to 1 billion recorded at the end of 2011.

“Global mobile subscriptions are expected to grow by 85% via 3G networks by 2017,” reads the report in part.

The report notes that total mobile data traffic continues to increase with data traffic also recording a double increase, mainly driven by video as well as smartphones. Overall, mobile data traffic is expected to grow by 15 times between 2011 and 2017.

Ericsson also predicts that by 2017 half of the world’s population will be covered by LTE/4G networks, ‘with the number of smartphone subscriptions rising to around 3 billion in 2017 – compared to just 700 million in 2011.’ 

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