Why Kenyans are spending more time on phone calls



Kenyans spent a record 20.8 billion minutes making phone calls in the three months to December on the back of promotions and discounts.

Data from the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) show that Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom Kenya subscribers increased their call durations by 10 percent from 18.9 billion minutes recorded in the quarter to September.

It emerged that Airtel Kenya subscribers speak nearly twice as long on their mobile phones than Safaricom users on the back of the telecom operator’s cheaper call tariffs.

The regulator says that on average Airtel users' calls lasted 2.8 minutes within network traffic compared to Safaricom’s 1.5 and two for Telkom Kenya subscribers.

Airtel subscribers’ calls to rival networks stood at one minute on average compared to Safaricom’s traffic to the competition which lasts 1.1 minutes.

Consumers made an average of 226.59 million minutes of calls daily — the highest in Kenya’s history — as access to mobile phones deepens.

“The growth is attributed to the various promotions and special offers launched by market players during the period coupled with long holidays and the festive season,” said the CA in the quarterly release.

Mobile phones have been one of the factors behind Africa’s recent growth, by freeing people from the shackles of the continent’s awful landline infrastructure and allowing them to communicate and transact at minimal personal and financial costs.

The CA data show that Kenya had 63.3 million phones, including 29.7 million smartphones, from 61 million handsets in March 2022.

The growth of mobile data –an even more powerful economic tool than simple voice services – has grown in recent years, but recorded a rare drop in the quarter to December.

Mobile Internet subscriptions dropped to 47.7 million in the three-month period from 48.3 million in the quarter to September.

 To unleash the full potential of mobile Internet services, analysts say, governments should also consider cutting taxes on web-enabled handsets to make them more affordable.

The simple SMS dropped 15 percent to 12.13 million in the quarter to December from 14.28 million in the three months to September on limited discounts.

→ [email protected]