Plan to split Safaricom still on, says CBK

Safaricom headquarters, Nairobi. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Plans to split Kenya’s biggest telco are still ongoing, the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has said following the expiry of an earlier suggested timeline.

Airtel Kenya last October completed the separation of its telecommunications business from mobile money.

The move set the stage for Safaricom and Telkom Kenya to follow suit.

CBK Governor Patrick Njoroge earlier said a road map for the split of the telco’s business units was to be in place by last month.

On Tuesday he said that while there were delays, the plans were afoot. “This (plan) is ongoing,” said Dr Njoroge even as he maintained the separation of the units is ideal for both customers and the telco.

“There have been some telcos that have already done this. It is important for many reasons. You can see already in the banking sector there has been a good separation of the banking business from all the other businesses; you have insurance and leasing and all those are separated.” 

CBK had said it would back legal efforts to compel Safaricom, Airtel Kenya and Telkom Kenya to split their telecommunications businesses from mobile money transfer and lending units.

Past legal attempts have failed amid mounting concerns that Safaricom has become too big through its dominant market share in voice, mobile data and mobile money.

The Kenya Kwanza administration had earlier committed to having Safaricom split into stand-alone business units.

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