Safaricom Garners Over 30 Million Subscribers As Airtel & Telkom Struggle In New Merger

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Safaricom has announced that it has hit over 30 million subscribers on its network, cementing the telco’s position as the most preferred mobile service provider in Kenya today. The amount of subscribers on the network has been attributed to Safaricom’s focus on customers through back to back campaigns, competitions and initiatives that have led to direct business partnerships with its subscribers.

This comes at a time rival companies are scrambling for subscribers through smearing campaigns and advertisements, that clearly only make for a good laugh with no subscriber migration to back them up. Airtel and Telkom being second and third mobile service providers in the telco industry respectively increased their market share as Safaricom’s share plunged by 1.6% to 65.4% in the fourth quarter ended June 2018 down from 67% in the third quarter.

In what was seen as Safaricom losing the market grip, the firm’s market share was reported to drop through three consecutive quarters from 2017, an issue Safaricom said was due to political instability following the election year.

Airtel- Telkom Merger Row

In February this year, both Telkom and Airtel announced a merger that will operate under the name Airtel-Telkom. In a strategy meant to eat into Safaricom’s market share, the two companies said the deal compromises their corresponding mobile, carrier and enterprises services that exclude Telkom’s Kenya estate portfolio.

The announcement was received with mixed reactions following a failed merger deal in 2018 that saw Airtel walk away. Earlier this month, parliament raised a red flag on the merger with concerns over the privatisation, recapitalisation and restructuring Telkom Kenya’s balance sheet which was adopted by parliament in 2015.

According to the public Investment Committee, the Ministry of Finance failed to involve stakeholders such as the privatization Commission, State law office and Communication Authority in the process. The legislators said the move to merge the two is contrary to the provisions of the Office of the Attorney General Act. A majority of the committee members said that Telkom has been short-changed by the Indian owned Bharti-Airtel. Telkom Kenya is 60% owned by private equity firm Helios and 40% owned by the Kenyan government.

Even as the two telcos fight to challenge Safaricom’s market dominance, it still proves hard to lure a majority of the market share out of the 46.6 million mobile subscribers.

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Melissa Daniels
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TELECOMMUNICATION