Safaricom Numbers 2016 – How big is Safaricom?

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  • 5 years ago
  • Posted: May 23, 2016 at 11:51 am

Kenya Shilling 195.7 billion and Kenya Shilling 38.1 billion are the amounts of money Safaricom made in gross turnover and net profits after tax respectively in the Financial Year ended 31st March 2016. Following the announcement of the profits by the biggest company in Kenya, we together and others have written and published several articles including this and this as attempts to provide some perspective on Safaricom Numbers. Manwa Magoma who is a Business and Political Analyst and publishes insightful articles at, also offered to provide us with a unique perspective on Safaricom Numbers via Twitter under the hashtag #SafaricomNumbers. Since the information he provided is so worthwhile, I have decided to reproduce it here in form of a blog post.

Manwa Magoma opened the discussion on Safaricom Numbers by tweeting:

Safaricom Numbers – Safaricom controls 95% of mobile phone market by phone ownership – The second tweet under the hashtag #SafaricomNumbers told us that we have 37.7 million registered SIM cards, and this was compared to the population of Uganda which was estimated to be 37.58 million by 2013. In the same year, the population of Kenya was estimated to be 44.35 million, and assuming that most people with phones only operate only one SIM card, then it seems 85% of Kenyans have a mobile phone.

However, the truth is that many of those who have phones have multiple SIM cards. By the end of December 2015, Kenyans with Safaricom SIM cards were estimated to be 24.4 million, and according to the Wikipedia’s demographic information on Kenya, about 58% of Kenyans are aged 15 years and above translating to a population of about 25.7 million people. Assuming therefore that those who own phones are Kenyans aged 15 years and above, then it is logical to conclude that the 37.7 million SIM cards are owned by some 25.7 million Kenyans. This then means that Safaricom controls 95% of the mobile phone market by phone ownership.

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The Kenyan Government is only six times bigger than Safaricom by Revenue Collection -As already mentioned, Safaricom generated a total revenue of Sh 195.7 billion in the 2016/2017 Financial Year. Contrast this with the Government’s revenue of Sh 1.001 trillion in the Financial Year ended 30th June 2015 which would make the Government only 5 times as big as Safaricom. To be generous on the Government, economist Kwame Owino  compared Safaricom’s revenue with the Government’s revenue target this year which is Sh 1.25 trillion, meaning the Government is only but six times bigger than Safaricom.

But this is not way too off when other economies are compared against their biggest companies by revenue. The US for example collects some $6.6 trillion in total revenues, which is only 13 times bigger than the revenue collected by Wal-Mart, the biggest company in the US when judged by total gross turnover. In South Korea, their biggest company, Samsung, is way bigger than the country by revenue as Samsung collected some $305 billion in 2014 whereas the country generated a total revenue of $296.1 billion in 2013. This is possible since Samsung collects most of its revenues outside of South Korea.

Then there is the other issue of how much Safaricom contributes to the Government’s revenue. Of the Sh 1.25 trillion the Government targets to collect from Kenyans through KRA (although they will be short by a couple of billions thanks to a slowing economy), Safaricom has already contributed Sh 17.66 billion in taxes and dividends to the Government, and this account for 1.4% of the total revenue to be collected.

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Safaricom has free cash that can buy KQ 5 times over – This is how Manwa Magoma put it on Twitter:

In addition to being able to buy KQ five times over and still remain with excess cash to pay all the pilots for a year, Safaricom’s profits after tax of Sh 38.1 billion, Manwa Magoma says, is higher than the market value of all media houses in Kenya. From MPESA, Safaricom generated a revenue of Sh 41.5 billion, which is more than the combined income generated by 90% of banks in Kenya.

Safaricom provides employment, but only to a few Kenyans – Although according to Safaricom Numbers we gather that Safaricom is so big, the company only provides direct employment to some 4,000 Kenyans to whom Safaricom pays some Sh 12 billion a year – meaning on average a Safaricom employee earns Sh 100,000 per month. But remember an Executive like Bob Collymore earns some Sh 10 million per month so don’t be surprised if there are a few disfranchised Safaricom employees who earn Sh 20,000 a month (or even less).

Safaricom also provides indirect employment to some 96,155 MPESA agents  who received Sh 14.6 billion in commission. On average therefore, each agent received about Sh 152,000 in commission coming to about Sh 12,650 per month. It is worth to note that most of these agents have multiple streams of revenues including retail sales of household commodities.

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From Safaricom Numbers we learn that Safaricom spent around Sh 10.78 billion to pay the Airtime agents, and these are very many as almost any local shop sells Airtime. An average shop in my estate sells around Sh 3,000 worth of Safaricom Airtime per day, meaning the shop owner earns roughly Sh 150 on commission per month, which comes to an average of Sh 4,500 per month – enough money to do monthly shopping for a family of four.

Safaricom’s support for local Enterprises is below 60% – Again from Manwa Magoma we learn that Safaricom spent Sh35 billion on tenders of which Sh20 billion went to local enterprises, accounting for 57% of the total tenders. According to a tweet by Soko Analyst, Safaricom has set aside Sh72 billion to promote its brand in this Financial Year, and together with the amount of money spent on tenders, these explain why there are so many leaks and corruption allegations facing Safaricom.

Safaricom Numbers also tell us that even after spending on marketing, advertisements, paying the tenders, and settling all expenses, Safaricom was still left with Sh 8.5 billion in the bank and it had no debt.

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