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Mobile subscription rises in Kenya due to Covid-19 restrictions

By Fredrick Obura | October 12th 2020

NAIROBI, KENYA: Mobile penetration shot up significantly between April and June, a new data by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) shows.

During the quarter under review, there were 1.8 million net additions in mobile SIM subscriptions. The significant growth is attributed to consumers taking advantage of various products such as SMS and data promotion/tariffs.

According to analysis by the industry regulator, the directive by the Government on the use of cashless payment systems to contain COVID-19 pandemic and the attendant waiver of transaction costs for amounts equal to or less than Sh1,000 also played a key role. Total net additions for the fiscal year stood at 4.8 million.

During the fourth quarter, Safaricom (a key player in the industry) lost 0.3 percentage points in market shares to post 64.2 percent share in mobile subscriptions. Airtel Networks and Telkom Kenya on the other hand gained by an equal margin of 0.2 percentage points to record 26.8 percent and 6.0 percent shares respectively.

Equitel registered the least market share of 3.0 percent after losing 0.1 percentage points.

In Quarter Four, 254 numbers were ported amongst the three mobile operators with Safaricom PLC recording the highest in-ports at 215. Airtel Networks Ltd and Orange registered 23 and 16 in-ports respectively.

Local Voice Traffic

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During the quarter under review, the total local mobile voice traffic originating from mobile networks stood at 15.2billion minutes, which was a decline of 0.9 percent from 15.3 billion minutes recorded in the previous quarter.

The drop is attributable to reduced business activity during the lockdown and curfew period occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic which affected normal calling patterns.

However, in general, there was an increase in local mobile voice traffic during the 2019/20 Financial Year despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which was reported in countryinmid-March2020.

The volume of local on-net mobile voice traffic declined by 1.6 percent to post 13.3 billion minutes during the quarter under review.

Nevertheless, compared to 2018/19Financial Year, the total intra-network voice traffic increased by 2.5 percent during the fiscal year that translates to 56.2billion minutes.

The volume of off-net mobile voice traffic rose by 4.6 per cent to post 1.8 billion minutes from 1.7 billion registered in the third quarter.

On a similar trend, off-net mobile voice traffic recorded a growth of 8.8 percent during the year under review, to register 7.0 billion minutes. Mobile-to-fixed network voice traffic dropped by 4.5 percent during the Fourth Quarter to 15.1million minutes from 15.8million minutes reported in the last quarter.

The data from the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) also indicates Safaricom’s fixed data customers jumped 25 per cent between March and June 2020 to stand at 207,398, giving the firm a 33.5 per cent market share. 

Zuku saw a 15 per cent increase in subscribers between March and June to stand at 201,605, translating to 32.5 per cent of the market.

The new statistics indicate the high demand for internet connectivity in the months following the outbreak of Covid-19 where millions of Kenyans were forced to work or study online owing to various restrictions.

At the same time, more than 90 per cent of the total 619,579 subscribers opted for fibre speeds of more than 2mbps connected to their homes and businesses, with 18 per cent of them asking for more than 20mbps.

Overall, consumers used up 132,397,651GB of mobile data between March and June, 19 per cent higher than was consumed in the previous quarter. 

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