Kenya's Mobile Subscription Numbers Record A Drop After New Metrics Are Introduced, The Latest CA Report Shows

According to the Communication Authority of Kenya's first quarter report for the 2016/2017 financial year, mobile subscriptions have declined by 3 per cent to stand at 38.5 million down from 39.7 million. Consequently, mobile penetration registered a 2.7 percent drop, going down from 90.0% in the previous quarter to 87.3%.

The report further indicates a decline in data and internet subscriptions by 4.5 per cent to stand at 25.6 million down from 26.8 million in the preceding quarter. However, internet penetration remained unchanged at 85.3 per cent.

These downward shifts have been attributed to a revision in data collection methods for mobile subscriptions information. From now on, only lines that have seen a revenue-generating activity in the previous 90 days will be considered in the statistics.

"The alignment saw Telkom Kenya Limited report the number of active subscribers based on the prescribed 90-day period to comply with the regulatory condition," CA Director-General Mr Francis Wangusi said in a statement.

As a result, Telkom Kenya Limited (Orange) recorded a significant drop in subscribers, losing slightly less than half of its 5.2 million subscriptions recorded in the previous quarter. This leaves the partially state-owned operator with 2.9 million subscriptions during the period under review, or about 7.6 percent market share.

This loss could be attributed to the fact that many of Orange's subscribers use the service for data, and many of them have an Orange line as a third option behind Safaricom and Airtel, so keeping the line active may not be a priority.

Safaricom's subscriber base grew by 3.8 per cent to stand at 69.0% of the market, or 26.6 million subscriptions, up from 65.2 percent, or 25.9 million in the preceding quarter.

Airtel Networks Kenya gained 0.9 per cent to acquire a market share of 17.5 percent during the period under review. The gain saw the number of active subscribers increase to 6.7 million subscribers up from 6.5 million subscribers in the previous quarter.

Equitel, a virtual network operated by Equity bank recorded an increase in market share of 0.8 per cent to stand at 5.9 percent market share, or 2.2 million subscribers using Equitel.

Broadband subscriptions are growing in popularity among Kenyans who use the internet, according to the report, with a 2.5 percentage increase recorded in the first quarter of the 2016/2017 financial year.

The sector statistics indicate a steady growth in broadband use in the quarter under review, with 11.9 million subscriptions recorded compared to 10.8 million subscriptions from the previous quarter. Broadband penetration was recorded at 27.0 percent, up from 24.5 percent in the same period in the 2015/2015 financial year.

Another notable growth in the country according to CA report was the international bandwidth which registered a 17.2 percent increase, standing at 2.02 million Mbps up from 1.73 million Mbps in the last quarter. The increase was attributed to the increase of SEACOM’s capacity by 31.6 per cent.

According to the sector statistics by CA, the total number of mobile money transfer subscriptions stands at 31.0 million during the quarter under review while the number of mobile money agent across the country stands at 169,698 subscriptions.
Safaricom dominated the mobile money transfer subscriptions by recording 20, 670,134 M-Pesa users and 114,282 agents across the country.

Airtel, on the other hand, recorded 5,861,480 Airtel Money users with 16,377 agents operating Airtel Money. Other subscriptions recorded in mobile money transfers saw Equitel and Orange Money add 2,090,234 and 194,228 subscribers respectively.

A total of 400.6 million transactions (deposits and withdrawals) were made during the period valued at Ksh.1.0 trillion. The mobile commerce transactions made were recorded at 247.9 million valued at Ksh. 447.3 billion. The total value of person to person transfers was Ksh. 474.5 billion during the quarter under review.

The number of SMS during the period under review increased to 12.2 billion up from 11.6 billion messages sent during the preceding quarter.

Safaricom Limited registered 11.5 billion messages sent on its network up from 10.9 billion messages recorded in the last quarter; the increase is largely attributed to the SMS Bundle tariff it offers its customers during the period under review.
Airtel Network Limited recorded 617.8 million outgoing messages during the quarter under review; this is a decline of 1.9 percent down from 629.6 million sent messages in the last quarter. On the other hand, Telkom Kenya Limited recorded 63.0 million messages sent on its network during the quarter under review down from last quarter’s 68.1 million messages.

Equitel registered 9.4 million outgoing messages during the period under review up from 9,0 million messages recorded in the last quarter.

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