Safaricom leaves rivals gasping for breath with 70.4pc voice market

Safaricom has strengthened its grip on the voice market, with its share of the pie hitting a four-year high of 70.4 percent in the three months ended December.

Data from the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) reveals the leading telco has left its rivals gasping for breath, with the market share of its closest competitor Airtel Kenya dipping 1.4 percentage points to 27.6 percent in the period.

This is the highest share of the voice market that Safaricom has enjoyed in four years. The closest it came close to this high was in June 2018 when it commanded 70 percent of the market.

The latest shares of the voice market are based on the minutes that subscribers spent on calls.

 Airtel and Telkom Kenya have been trying to chip off Safaricom’s market share over the years but they have yet to make any significant headway.

The regulator attributed the increase in Safaricom’s market share to its offer that allowed callers to get bonus airtime after hitting daily targets.

“Safaricom Stori Ibambe 500 percent promotion awarded eligible customers with 500 percent bonus airtime upon achieving their daily target,” CA says in the latest review of the telecommunications industry.

The offer prompted protests from Airtel who said that the promotion was lower than the actual costs of the calling, giving Safaricom an upper hand in efforts to stay clear of its rivals.

Safaricom’s offer saw subscribers call for 14.5 billion minutes on its network and across the other telcos in the period under review up from 14 billion minutes in the preceding quarter.

Airtel posted a drop to 5.6 billion minutes in the period from 5.92 billion minutes while Telkom Kenya’s subscribers called for 385.5 million minutes, up from 381.3 million minutes.

The growth in Safaricom’s numbers saw the total talktime across all telcos increase to 20.608 billion minutes up from 20.36 billion, with CA attributing the increase to offers on calling rates.

Telcos’ revenue from voice services will drop significantly if the regulator’s decision to bring down mobile termination rates (MTR) is upheld by the industry’s tribunal.

The CA wants to reduce MTR per minute to Sh0.12 from Sh0.99, lowering fees for interconnecting calls besides inspiring a new price war.

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