The Star (Nairobi)

22 January 2013

Kenya: Mobile Voice Calls Rise After Two-Year Slump

The number of mobile voice calls and call durations increased for the first time between July and September last year, after nearly two years of consistent decline.

Latest data from the Communication Commission of Kenya shows a 10.5 per cent increase in voice traffic amounting to a total of seven billion minutes up from 6.3 billion minutes recorded in the previous period.

At the same time, the Minutes of Use per subscriber per month grew by 7.7 per cent from 71.2 minutes 76.7 minutes. This had previously declined by 14.2 per cent.

This will be a relief to operators who have heavily invested on the networks but have lately seen voice revenues decline compared to that of data and mobile money. The drop in voice revenues has been experienced since the industry came out of the vicious 2010 price wars.

"The increase in mobile traffic during the period could have been as a result of increased subscriptions coupled with competitive and attractive promotions and special offers by mobile operators that gave subscribers incentives to make local calls," said CCK in a statement.

For example, during the period Safaricom offered lower calling rates for longer calls while Airtel had a bonus airtime campaign.

In terms of market shares of traffic per operator Safaricom's had 76.7 per cent of all the calls followed by Airtel with 12.5 per cent ,Essar with 9.6 per while Orange claimed only 1.1 per cent of all the calls.

The CCK data showed there were a total number of subscribers had grown to 30.4 million by end of September up from 29.7 million in July.

Airtel and Essar were the gainers claiming 16.8 per cent and 9.9 per cent share respectively. Safaricom and Telkom Kenya shares declined to 63.2 per cent and 10.2 respectively.

"The steady growth in the mobile industry sector as recorded by increased subscriptions and traffic is expected to continue ... Even as operators offer attractive promotions and special offers, this will undoubtedly bring about increased subscriptions and growth in traffic during the coming periods,"CCK said.

Value addition services like money transfer are also pushing the subscription numbers for the operators. But the number of mobile money transfer subscriptions saw a marginal decline from 19.5 million to 19.3 million.

"The decline was as a result of a reduction in overall subscription level in Airtel Networks Kenya Limited during the period under review," CCK said overall internet subscriptions on the other hand rose by 10.2 per cent in the three months to stand at 8.5 million subscribers, up from 7.7 million in July.

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