The regulatory decision by Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) to license Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO) has begun bearing fruits as evidenced by the latest sector statistics quarterly report. The report covering the period April to June indicates a significant increase in mobile subscriptions and Minutes of Usage in voice. The sector report for the last quarter of the financial year 2015/2016 indicates that, mobile subscription grew by 9.9 per cent to 39.7 million. The mobile penetration level hit 90 per cent, having grown by 6.1 percentage points.
Total traffic originating from mobile networks also increased by 22.5 per cent during the financial year to post 41.6 billion minutes up from 34.0 billion minutes posted in the previous financial year.
“The number of mobile subscriptions continues to increase remarkably and this can be attributed to the market entry by MVNOs and expansion of mobile network infrastructure by the service providers,” the report noted.
Three MVNOs, Mobile Pay, Finserve Africa and Zioncell Kenya, with an aim of increasing competition in the sector, stimulating and sustaining overall market growth. The entry of the MVNOs has introduced a new range of innovative products and service propositions that gives more choice and value to Kenyans.
The firms were awarded the MVNO licenses under the ‘Application Service Provider (ASP)’ category of the CA’s Unified Licensing Framework adopted in 2008.
The report released on Thursday shows that million mobile money subscribers reached 26.3 while the number of mobile money transfer agents was recorded at 158,727.
The period also saw a total of 227.3 million mobile commerce transactions made translating to the cost of goods and services valued at Ksh. 404.1 billion purchased. Person to person money transfers recorded in the period was valued at Ksh. 429.4 billion.
Mobile subscribers called for 36.6 billion minutes up from 29.5 billion minutes posted in the previous financial year. On the contrary, the minutes of Use (MoU) per subscriber per month declined from 89 minutes recorded in the previous quarter to 86 minutes in the fourth quarter.
The total number of Short Messaging Service (SMS) sent during the quarter increased significantly to 11.6 billion messages from 6.5 billion registered last quarter.
“This growth was as a result of the Create Your Plan Bundles SMS tariff that was introduced by Safaricom Limited during the period under review,” reads part of the report. This tariff allows the operator’s customers to send as many as 50 messages per day for only Ksh.10.
Similarly, the volume of SMS sent throughout the year grew significantly to 31.3 billion up 26.1 billion messages sent during the previous year.
In the Data/Internet market segment, subscriptions rose by 8.2 per cent to reach 26.8 million during the quarter under review up from 24.8 million subscriptions recorded last quarter. This represents an increase of 35.0 per cent compared to the 19.9 million subscriptions reported during the previous year.
Consequently, the estimated number of internet users grew from 37.4 million posted last quarter to 37.7 million users in the last quarter. Internet penetration on the other hand, declined from 87.2 per to 85.3 per cent. This drop is attributed to the revision of the base population figure used in the computation of penetration from 43.0 million to 44.2 million in line with the Economic Survey 2016.
The postal and courier segment realized mixed trends during the quarter under review. The number of courier outlets declined during the quarter under review. This declined was mainly a result of deregistering of some non-compliant courier operators.
The numbers of letters sent and received is likely to increase in the coming financial year as a result of the launch of mobile-based services connecting its physical letter boxes to consumers’ mobile phones (Mpost) by Postal Corporation of Kenya.