Airtel eats into Safaricom voice market dominance


Airtel Kenya Ltd headquarters located along Mombasa Road, Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Safaricom’s dominance of the voice market plunged to a two-year low while that of Airtel rose to a record high, highlighting the increasing competition between these telcos.

Data from the Communications Authority (CA) shows that Safaricom’s dominance of the market fell to 64.2 percent in the three months ended September, a 1.9 percentage points drop from a similar period ended June.

Airtel grew its share to a record high of 33.7 percent, a rise of 1.6 percentage points from the three months ended June as the telco rode on lower tariffs to eat into Safaricom’s dominance.

READ: Airtel Kenya finally smells profit after years of losses

The last time Safaricom’s share of voice was lower than the latest figure was 62.1 percent in June 2020.

The drop in Safaricom’s market share saw talk-time across all the mobile networks fall to 18.9 billion minutes from 19.2 billion minutes in the three months ended June as callers shifted to cheaper internet calls.

“The decline is attributed to the increased preference and uptake of VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) services especially in urban areas where fast Internet connections are readily available,” the CA says in the latest report.

VoIP platforms enable calls through internet and include WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom and Facebook Messenger.

The CA data shows that customers spent 12.14 billion minutes on Safaricom’s network in the period under review, a 4.36 percent drop from 12.69 billion minutes in the three months ended June.

Airtel callers spent 6.36 billion minutes, a 3.8 percent rise from 6.13 billion minutes in the three months ended June while callers on Telkom Kenya talked for 370.57 million minutes from 341.4 million in June.

Safaricom’s dominance has been falling from 70.4 percent in December last year to 67.8 percent in March.

The CA also attributed the drop in Safaricom’s dominance to the cheaper calling rates offered by its rivals.

READ: Airtel Kenya tax savings increase to Sh5 billion

Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom opted for an out-of-court settlement on the charges for interconnecting mobile calls in August, cutting the fees to Sh0.58 per minute from Sh0.99.

[email protected]