Kenya’s telecom market continues to undergo considerable changes in the wake of increased competition, improved international connectivity, and rapid developments in the mobile market. The country is directly connected to a number of submarine cables. Mombasa is the landing point for LIT’s newly completed East and West Africa terrestrial network, while Nairobi country serves as a key junction for onward connectivity to Ethiopia, the Arabian states, and the Far East. While the additional internet capacity has meant that the cost of internet access has fallen dramatically in recent years, allowing services to be affordable to a far greater proportion of the population, the telecom infrastructure remains woefully inadequate. Many millions of people lack any internet access, and what services are available are comparatively slow and expensive.
This poor situation poses significant challenges for the government’s digital transformation ambitions. There has been insufficient spectrum allocation to enable the MNOs to improve mobile network capacity, and while the launch of Starlink’s satellite broadband service in early 2023 may signify some relief for unserved people in rural areas, the high cost of hardware and access makes it unviable for many.
The government is channelling investment in a 100,000km fibre backbone, which is scheduled to be complete by the end of 2026. While thousands of governments offices, schools and health centres will access broadband as a result, much more work needs to be done if Kenya is to realise its potential as a regional ICT hub.
The incumbent fixed-line telco Telkom Kenya has struggled to make headway in this market, prompting a reorganisation in 2018 which included a sale and leaseback arrangement with its mobile tower portfolio. A further restructuring exercise in late 2020 was aimed at repositioning the company for the digital age, and to improve its ability to compete in the market.
Telkom Kenya, Jamii Telecom, Access Kenya (Dimension Data), Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC), Kenya Pipeline Corporation (KPC), Wananchi, Safaricom, Bharti Airtel, MTN, Liquid Intelligent Technologies (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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