In a surprising move, Zuku has reached an agreement to buy Yumobile from Airtel Kenya. The deal which is still subject to approval by the Communication Authority of Kenya, came at a time when many players in the market see the sim card as the future of the financial services. The deal was made after Airtel Kenya realized that all the Yumobile subscribers were already using Airtel lines making them all useless to Airtel Kenya. Airtel Kenya which has made some progress in Kenya after introducing services like Unliminet, came to conclusion that there are better ways to acquire new subscribers and that integrating the Yumobile subscribers is a waste of time and resources
Zuku on the other hand has been actively looking on how to venture into mobile space and moved fast when they learned that Airtel Kenya is looking to cash out on the Yumobile subscribers. The deal which was announced at a press conference held in Nairobi yesterday will cost Zuku Ksh.2.4 billion. Speaking at the conference Zuku Product manager Conrad Akunga promised to come up with more innovative services in the coming years.
“Our focus will be identifying and understanding what the market needs in order to enable us to develop innovative products and services that provide our customers with solutions to help them succeed”
Mr. Conrad added that the move by Facebook to launch the voice calls on WhatsApp will play well on their plan to have the mobile phone subscribers use the internet more.
Speaking at the same event Airtel Kenya Communication Manager Mr. John Kieti said that the deal will help them streamline their operations and provide better services to Kenya. Airtel Kenya see the deal as a win win situation, especially with Zuku planning to gain MVNO status. That means Zuku will be back to negotiate with Airtel to use their network across the country.
The deal will immediately elevate Zuku as the third largest mobile network operator in Kenya after Safaricom and Airtel Kenya. Although yet to be confirmed rumors have it that Zuku will partner with one of the Kenyan banks to launch mobile money in the coming years