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Kenya - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

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Last updated: 24 Aug 2020 Update History

Report Pages: 197

Kenya’s mobile operators progress with 5G trials

Kenya’s telecommunications market continues to undergo considerable changes in the wake of increased competition, improved international connectivity, and rapid developments in the mobile market. The landing of four fibre-optic international submarine cables in recent years dramatically reduced the cost of phone calls and internet access, allowing internet services to be affordable to a far greater proportion of the population. In parallel, the sector’s regulator has reduced interconnection tariffs and implemented a range of regulations aimed at developing further competition.

The incumbent fixed-line telco has struggled to make headway in this market, prompting reorganisation in 2018 which included a sale and leaseback arrangement with its mobile tower portfolio. In early 2020 competition authorities approved the acquisition of Telkom Kenya by Airtel Kenya, with the new merged operator able to provide a greater challenge to the market dominance of Safaricom.

Numerous competitors are rolling out national and metropolitan fibre backbone networks and wireless access networks to deliver services to population centres across the country. Several fibre infrastructure sharing agreements have been forged, and as a result the number of fibre broadband connections increased 53% in 2019, year-on-year. Much of the progress in the broadband segment is due to the government’s revised national broadband strategy, which has been updated with goals through to 2030, and which are largely dependent on mobile broadband platforms based on LTE and 5G.

BuddeComm notes that the outbreak of the Coronavirus in 2020 is having a significant impact on production and supply chains globally. During the coming year the telecoms sector to various degrees is likely to experience a downturn in mobile device production, while it may also be difficult for network operators to manage workflows when maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure. Overall progress towards 5G may be postponed or slowed down in some countries.

On the consumer side, spending on telecoms services and devices is under pressure from the financial effect of large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes. However, the crucial nature of telecom services, both for general communication as well as a tool for home-working, will offset such pressures. In many markets the net effect should be a steady though reduced increased in subscriber growth.

Although it is challenging to predict and interpret the long-term impacts of the crisis as it develops, these have been acknowledged in the industry forecasts contained in this report.

The report also covers the responses of the telecom operators as well as government agencies and regulators as they react to the crisis to ensure that citizens can continue to make optimum use of telecom services. This can be reflected in subsidy schemes and the promotion of tele-health and tele-education, among other solutions.

Key developments:

  • Telkom Kenya and Airtel Kenya cancel merger plans;
  • Alphabet’s Loon balloons come into commercial service;
  • Kenya sees a 35% increase in international bandwidth in 2019;
  • Universal Service Fund extends mobile coverage to underserved northern regions;
  • Safaricom launches M-PESA Global payment service;
  • Government proposes increase in m-money transfer tax;
  • Regulator introduces a new system to measure QoS parameters;
  • M-money interoperability starts;
  • Report update includes the regulator’s market data to December 2019, operator data to Q1 2020, Telecom Maturity Index charts and analyses, assessment of the global impact of COVID-19 on the telecoms sector, recent market developments.

Companies mentioned in this report:

Telkom Kenya, Jamii Telecom, Access Kenya (Dimension Data), Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC), Kenya Pipeline Corporation (KPC), Wananchi, Safaricom, Bharti Airtel, MTN, Liquid Telecom, Essar Telkom Kenya, Mobile Pay (Tangaza Pesa), Zioncell Kenya, Finserve Africa (Equitel), Kenya Data Networks (KDN), Jamii Telecom, SimbaNet, Africa Online, Access Kenya (Dimension Data), Wananchi Online, Swift Global, Internet Solutions Kenya (InterConnect), Gilat Satellite Networks, Afsat Communications, Inmarsat, Indigo Telecom (Thuraya), Nation TV (NTV)

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