Kenya’s mobile market has continued to grow steadily, supported by a mobile subscriber base of about 41 million by early 2018. Some market consolidation occurred following the acquisition by Airtel and Safaricom of Essar Telecom’s yuMobile business. While all network operators have invested in mobile technologies and infrastructure upgrades to support mobile data services, competition has nevertheless presented challenges to their profitability, with uneven revenue growth reported in recent years. Orange Group was the principal casualty of competition, leading it to sell its stake in Telkom Kenya. By contrast, Safaricom has seen very strong growth on the back of its popular M-PESA payment platform. This market dominance, however, encouraged the government to consider, and later dismiss, recommendations from a 2016 report that Safaricom split off its M-PESA business from its voice and data offerings.
To encourage the development of LTE services the government has pursued an open-access approach. Disputes centered on licence fees delayed the launch of LTE services by MNOs, though they continued to invest in infrastructure and technology upgrades using trial licences.
A number of MVNO licences awarded since 2014 have added to the competitive mix, with Equitel establishing a market share of about 4.6% by late 2017.
Telkom Kenya launches T-Kash m-money platform; regulator preps for auction of two remaining licences for 700MHz spectrum; test phase of m-money interoperability starts; Jamii Telecom launches cut-price LTE services; Airtel Kenya pays $25 million for its 800MHz concession to provide LTE services; Vodacom takes a large stake in Safaricom; Treasury launches its M-Akiba platform to buy and sell government bonds; M-Tiba mobile health payment platform launched; regulator rejects proposal for Safaricom’s M-PESA service to be split off from voice and data services; regulator proposes limit of ten SIM cards per subscriber; Telkom Kenya's m-money platform to be revamped and relaunched; Safaricom contracts Nokia Networks to develop LTE-A network, shares capacity on its LTE infrastructure, launches Hello Doctor m-medicine service; One Network Area initiative expands to include mobile data and mobile money services; regulator reviews framework for QoS surveys; report update includes the regulator’s market data to September 2017, telcos’ operating and financial data to Q3 2017, recent market developments.
Safaricom, Bharti Airtel (formerly Zain, Celtel), Essar Telkom Kenya, Huawei Technologies, ZTE, Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia Networks, Mobile Pay (Tangaza Pesa), Zioncell Kenya, Finserve Africa (Equitel)
Companies (Major Players)
Mobile & Wireless Broadband and Media
Mobile Communications (voice and infrastructure)
Regulations & Government Policies
Strategies & Analyses (Industry & Markets)
Number of pages 37
Last updated 20 Mar 2018
Analyst: Henry Lancaster
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