Safaricom loses over 400,000 users in SIM registration drive

Safaricom subscribers in Kisumu line up to register their SIM cards on April 14, 2022. [Michael Mute, Standard]

Safaricom lost 438,797 subscribers in the first three months of this year on the back of a SIM card registration directive issued by the industry regulator, Communications Authority of Kenya (CA).

Latest data from the CA indicates that the total number of registered SIM cards in Kenya declined by 124,689 in the first quarter of this year, with the SIM penetration rate falling for the first time in years.      

"As of March 31, 2022, the number of active mobile (SIM) subscriptions stood at 64.9 million from 65.1 million subscriptions recorded by the end of December 31, 2021, and representing a mobile penetration rate of 131.4 per cent," said CA in the sector report for the first quarter released yesterday. 

"The decline in SIM subscriptions is partly attributed to the ongoing SIM registration exercise during which a number of SIM cards have been deactivated." 

Safaricom's registered subscribers fell from 42.8 million in December last year to 42.4 million at the end of March, bringing the telco's market share down marginally to 65.3 per cent from 65.8 per cent the previous year. 

Airtel Kenya, on the other hand, registered an additional 303,198 subscribers while Telkom Kenya registered no change in the number of subscribers.

Finserve and Jamii Telkom added 7,072 and 17,982 subscribers respectively in the period under review.

CA had given mobile network operators until April 15 to deactivate subscribers with incomplete records as per the regulations, but was forced to extend the deadline by six months following public outcry.

Mobile operators now have until October 15 to clean up their subscriber registers and submit their records to the CA for audit.

Data from CA indicates that the value of customer deposits went up by Sh4.3 billion in the first quarter of this year to hit Sh1.2 trillion, while person-to-person transfers reduced by Sh17 billion over the same period.

Fixed data subscriptions recorded an increase of six per cent to hit 848,472, driven largely by an increase in uptake in fibre connections to homes and offices.

The broadcasting sub-sector also recorded robust growth with licensed community FM radio stations doubling from 28 to 58 while commercial FM radios increased by 26 per cent to 154 in the quarter under review.

Total cyber security cases reported with the authority recorded a 38 per cent drop to 79 million as at March 2022, down from 129 million in December last year.