Kenya's second-largest mobile services provider Airtel Kenya recorded the biggest jump in market share following an 18 per cent growth in subscribers during the third quarter of the 2017/2018 financial year.
Data from the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) indicates that the overall number of subscribers grew by four per cent between January and March this year to sit at 44.1 million, up from 42.8 million.
"Airtel Networks’ mobile subscriptions grew remarkably by 18.2 per cent to post 8.7 million subscriptions from 7.3 million subscriptions recorded during the previous period," said the CA in the report.
This has seen Airtel Kenya record the largest growth in market share in recent years with overall market share expanding by 2.5 per cent to sit at 19.7 per cent.
Market leader Safaricom recorded a 2.1 per cent decline in market share from 69.1 per cent at the end of December 2017 to 67 per cent in the third quarter of the financial year.
The company's overall subscribers, however, remained unchanged, indicating that Airtel’s new jump is attributable to subscribers possibly using more than one SIM card.
The increase of 1.3 million new subscribers on Airtel Kenya’s network nevertheless resulted in more voice and SMS traffic, eventually boosting the company’s earnings.
“Airtel Networks recorded a total of 3.6 billion minutes which was an increase from 2.5 billion minutes recorded during the previous quarter,” said the CA report.
Mobile money transactions recorded a Sh100 million increase between the second and third quarter of the 2017/2018 financial year with overall transactions sitting at Sh1.8 trillion.
At the same time, over-the-top service providers such as WhatsApp and Facebook continue to erode SMS earnings for operators, with the average number of SMS sent per month falling to 112 in the period under review, down from 156 last year.
Safaricom recorded the largest drop from 17.1 billion messages to 14.1 billion.
The number of Internet subscribers went up from 33 million as at the end of December to 36 million, with the biggest growth recorded in wireless data and fixed fibre optic subscriptions.
Terrestrial wireless data subscribers rose 23 per cent from 82,100 recorded in the second quarter to 101,582 in the third quarter, while fixed fibre optic data subscriptions went up from 99,000 to 114,000.
Safaricom's market share in the data market shrunk marginally from 72 per cent to 68 per cent while Airtel expanded by 4.6 per cent to 23 per cent market share.