Safaricom’s share of calls market hits 5-year high

Bob Collymore, Safaricom Chief Executive. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Bob Collymore, Safaricom Chief Executive. FILE PHOTO | NMG  

Safaricom’s #ticker:SCOM share of the voice calls market rose to a five-year high in the year ended June 2017, underscoring the company’s continued dominance of Kenya’s telecommunication market.

Newly-released data from the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) shows that Safaricom had 80.4 per cent share of voice traffic, up from 75.7 per cent the previous year.

Safaricom’s dominance of the voice market last rose past 80 per cent in the year ended June 2012. 

Kenya’s two other telecoms operators, Telkom Kenya and Airtel, saw their share of voice traffic shrink, signalling the challenge they face fighting for space in a market dominated by the Safaricom behemoth.

Telkom Kenya’s market share fell from 8.6 per cent in 2015/16 to 6.3 per cent in 2016/17 while Airtel’s market share fell from 15.4 per cent to 12.9 per cent, according the latest industry report. 

The CA attributes the changes to pricing decisions made by the two smaller operators.

Upward reviews made to voice and data tariffs have seen customers either flee from the smaller operators or choose not to use those networks when making calls, the CA report says.

The report paints a rather darkly picture for competitiveness of Kenya’s telecommunication sector, pointing ever more to the question of the smaller operators’ ability to survive in the current market structure.

Of the three mobile network operators, Safaricom remains the only profitable company. Airtel Kenya’s most recent financial results show that the company is operating deep in the red with current liabilities that far outweigh its assets. The trends in mobile voice traffic are also reflective of the overall picture in the telecommunications sector.

The CA report shows that there were 40.2 million mobile subscribers in Kenya at the end of June 2017.

The data shows that over the past five years, Safaricom’s customer numbers, buoyed by the company’s market share, rose to over 70 per cent for the first time in the year ended June 2017 since 2010.

Safaricom’s dominance extends well beyond voice services to data and mobile money, considered to be the future revenue generators in Kenya’s telecom sector.

The CA data shows that Safaricom had 77.1 per cent market share in the quarter to June 2017. The company’s mobile money service, M-Pesa, is dominant in the mobile money business.