SAFARICOM's market share is dropping as rivals such as YU gain from promotional and special offers targeting the youth. Latest figures by the Communication Commission of Kenya indicates that Safaricom, the largest mobile operator in East Africa, now has a 65.3 per cent market share by subscription as at 31st March 2012 having dropped from 66.6 per cent in December 2011. Essar Telecom, which operates the mobile brand YU, gained the largest market share to reach 8.7 per cent, a 0.8 per cent growth. YU is however still the smallest operator in the market followed by Orange (10.6 per market share) and Airtel at 15.3 per cent.
Despite the falling market share, Safaricom managed to get the highest number of new subscription, recording 386, 777 new users, a 2.1 per cent growth when compared to the previous quarter. Essar Telecom posted the highest growth of 14.5 per cent, representing a growth of 324,284 new subscriptions. Telekom Kenya and Airtel gained 209,447 and 210,370 new subscriptions representing 7.2 per cent and 4.9 per cent growth, respectively during the period. "The tremendous growth in the new subscriptions by Essar Telecom Kenya Limited could be attributed to increased promotional and special offers targeting the youth that were offered during the period," said the CCK report.
YU charges Sh5 a day for calls made between 6 am and 6 pm within its network and free browsing on phone, strategy that has made it a darling of many college and school students. As a whole, the country now has more than 29.2 million mobile subscribers as at 31st March 2012 compared to 28.08 million as at 31st December 2011, a 4 per cent growth. During the quarter, Pre-paid subscriptions grew by 4 per cent to reach 28.9 million while Post-paid subscriptions grew by 7.5 per cent to post 254,194 subscribers. "The growth in mobile subscriptions is an indication of operators' determination to continue growing their subscriber base and increasing access to mobile telephony services in the country," CCK says.
At the end of the quarter, mobile penetration was posted as 74.0 per cent up from 71.3 per cent recorded at the close of the previous quarter . In the Internet and data market, the number of subscriptions increased by 5.5 per cent from 6.1 million recorded in the previous period to 6.4 million during the quarter under review. Mobile data subscriptions continued to dominate the internet market with 98.8 per cent of the total Internet/data subscriptions being from the mobile phones. The number of internet users rose by 4.7 per cent, from 11.3 million to 11.8 million users during the quarter under review. Broadband subscriptions increased significantly by more than three-fold, from131,829 subscriptions posted the previous quarter to 651,738 subscriptions during the quarter.