Airtel customer growth at record 69pc in two years

Airtel shop in Nairobi
Airtel shop in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Bharti Airtel has grown its mobile subscribers by nearly 70 percent in the nine quarters to last December, making it the fastest growing telco by customer base in the industry.

An analysis of latest data from the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) shows that the telco had 11.56 million subscribers as at end of last year, which represents a 69 percent growth in customers from 6.84 million as at December 2016.

Market leader Safaricom #ticker:SCOM , on the other hand, grew its customer base by 12 percent to 31.32 million from 27.73 million during the same period.

Telkom Kenya, which this year disclosed plans to merge with Bharti Airtel, grew subscriptions by 53 percent through the nine quarters to record 4.47 million users. It currently controls nine percent of the market.

This means Airtel has increased its subscribers by an average of one million every quarter from September 2017 to last December while Safaricom averaged a growth of 0.4 million, pointing to dividends of a tariff war between the telcos finally paying off for the former.


“During the quarter under review Safaricom PLC market share for mobile subscriptions dropped by 0.9 percentage points to stand at 63.3 percent. On the other hand, Airtel Networks Limited gained 1.1 percentage points to record a market share of 23.4 percent,” CA said in the December 2018 report.

Its growth in subscribers also comes despite the telco losing more than half-a million subscribers in a SIM card switch-off over fraudulent registrations last year.

Airtel’s growth comes on the back of a prolonged tariff war with the market leader that saw it launch the lowest call rates in a promotional offer recently.