Market News

Calls, texts losing lure as streams of revenue


A woman makes a call on her mobile phone. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA | NMG

Mobile calls and texts have become less lucrative revenue streams for telecoms firms in the past three years, prompting the firms to aggressively turn to data and mobile money services.

An analysis of industry data shows that mobile call revenue— once the most lucrative stream for telcos— has fallen by 5.2 percentage points while revenue from texts dropped 3.1 percentage points in the past three years.

The data from the Communications Authority (CA) shows income from mobile money and data rose in similar period offering Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom Kenya an opportunity to counter the waning revenues from calls and texts.

Key revenue drivers are now the higher use of platforms such as M-Pesa in merchant payments, coupled with the recent decision to open the platform to Telkom and Airtel customers and the continued uptake of internet by homes and institutions.

Safaricom disclosed that it is betting on its internet-based services to grow revenues amid the saturation of the calls and texts markets.

“…manage voice decline through bundle-based pricing, focusing on content, services enabled by connectivity, affordability in sensitive segments,” Safaricom said in its annual report for the year ended March 2022.

M-Pesa, Airtel Money and T-Kash accounted for 38 percent of all revenues that telcos made last year up from 33.1 percent in 2020 and 32.8 percent in 2019.

Safaricom’s books show that revenue from M-Pesa overtook voice in the year ended March while the contribution from mobile data grew 8.1 percent to Sh48.44 billion in the period.

Revenues from data (fixed and mobile data) have also been on the rise in the period to close last year at 25 percent from 24.7 percent in 2020 and 21.9 percent in 2019.

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