Market News

Safaricom voice market share drops in first quarter


Safaricom Limited's headquarters. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

Safaricom’s market share in the voice market dropped to 67.8 percent in the three months ended March, marking the first time it has declined since September last year.

Data from the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) shows that Safaricom's share of the voice business dropped from a four-year high of 70 percent recorded in the three months to December.

Airtel Kenya gained in the review period, adding percentage points to 30 percent.

The drop in Safaricom’s share of the voice market came in a period where the overall voice traffic dropped following the expiry of calling offers.

“This (drop in voice traffic) is mainly attributed to the conclusion of various promotions that were running during the previous quarter,” CA says in its latest industry report.

The shares are based on the minutes that subscribers spent on calls. Airtel and Telkom Kenya have over the years struggled to cut Safaricom’s dominance in the voice market despite unveiling offers to make calls cheaper.

The drop in Safaricom’s dominance of the voice market came in a period when voice traffic for on-net and off-net calls dropped to 19.18 billion minutes, representing a 6.93 percent fall from 20.6 billion minutes in the three months to December.

Voice traffic on Safaricom’s network fell 10.3 percent to 13 billion minutes but that on Airtel network rose one percent to 5.76 billion minutes. Traffic on Telkom Kenya remained unchanged at 3.85.46 million minutes.

This is the biggest market share that Airtel has attained since the 29.1 percent the telco held in the three months ended September last year.

Airtel has over the year intensified the war against Safaricom for the voice market with offers meant to woo callers and help lift its revenues.

The war for control of the voice market has triggered protests from Airtel Kenya that Safaricom’s calling promotions are lower than the actual costs of the calling.

Voice, initially the core business for telcos, remains important but is not seen as a growth driver amid the maturity of the service and competition from alternative communication channels.

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