Airtel has lost over half a million mobile subscribers to poor registration process

The third quarter of fiscal year 2015/2016 telecommunication sector statistics by the Communications Authority of Kenya have just been published. According to the latest report, the number of mobile subscribers increased by 660,867  subscriptions. By the end of March 2016 therefore, the mobile subscribers in Kenya stood at 38.3 million up from 37.7 million of the previous quarter. The mobile penetration now stands at 89.2% up from 87.7% of the previous quarter.

Gainers by mobile subscriptions are Safaricom having gained 752,505 new subscriptions, Orange Kenya having gained 146,126 new subscriptions, Equitel having gained 276,190 new subscriptions and a new kid on the block called Sema Mobile services registered a meagre 158 users. When everyone was gaining new subscribers, Airtel decided to de-register over 500,000 subscribers because they could not have them comply with the SIM card registration regulations, a mistake that hit them hard as they ended up losing a net of 514,112 mobile subscribers.

The Airtel loss does not come as good news to the telecommunication sector. In the quarter that ended in December 2015, Safaricom’s dominance lessened a bit as¬†the teleco lost market share by 1.6 percent from 66.3 percent to a low of 64.7 percent. Expectations were that this trend would continue to allow Airtel to catch up with Safaricom, only for Airtel to play dumb and dump a significant number of mobile subscribers due to their poor registration programme. After gaining over 750,000 new subscribers, Safaricom’s market share rose by 0.9 percent to now stand at 65.6 percent. Airtel on the other hand lost its market share by 1.7 percent and now it controls only 17.5 percent market share.

Mobile money market is still under Safaricom’s MPESA, where the platform controlled over 91% of the mobile money transactions worth KShs 764.7 Billion. Following closely is Equitel that controlled transactions valued at KShs 62.4 Billion or 7.4% of the transactions value. Airtel Money is also tried and managed to take control of transactions worth KShs 12.4 Billion (1.5% market share) whereas Orange and the others had a market share below 1%.

Interestingly, despite the sector acquiring a net of 660,867 new subscribers, the total voice calls declined from 10.27 billion minutes posted in the last quarter to stand at 10.24 billion minutes . The 0.2 percent drop in voice calls only affected the off-net voice calls that dropped by 4.7 per cent to post 1.21 billion minutes. The on-net voice traffic grew by 0.4% to record 9 billion minutes up from 8.9 billion minutes of the previous quarter.

By Mobile Network Operator, Safaricom reported an increase in voice traffic to 7.8 billion up from 7.3 billion minutes reported in the previous quarter. Equitel also had an increase in voice minutes to a record 39.4 million minutes up from 34.4 million minutes registered during the previous quarter. Sema Mobile Services which launched its services during the quarter recorded a total of 19,597 minutes with 1,629 on-net minutes and 17,968 off-net minutes. Despite registering a slight increase in mobile subscriptions, Orange had a net drop in voice traffic to post 851.1 million minutes during the quarter down from 1.1 billion minutes posted during the previous quarter. As expected, Airtel had the biggest lost in voice traffic by 13.9 percent to record 1.4 billion minutes during the period under review.

Finally, the third quarter telecommunication sector report reveals that “Internet subscriptions grew by 3.8 per cent to reach 24.8 million subscriptions from 23.9 million subscriptions reported the previous quarter. As has been the trend, mobile Internet contributed the largest share of 99.4 per cent of the total Internet subscriptions.”

From the 24.8 million subscriptions, the country now has over 37.4 million users meaning 87.2 percent Kenyans are Internet users. “According to the Access Gap Study Report released early in the year, 94.4 per cent of the Kenyan population has access to 2G network services whereas 78 percent of the population has access to 3G services”, the CA report explains.


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