Safaric*m remains dominant with over 46M subscribers as penetration rate drops

Monday, June 26th, 2023 14:58 | By
Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa.
Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa. PHOTO/Courtesy

Safaricom has remained the most dominant telco with over 46.7 million subscribers as of March 31, 2023, according to a new report by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA).

According to the report, Safaricom towered against Airtel- Kenya which had 17.6 million subscribers, Telkom Kenya which had 2.8 million subscribers, Equitel (1.5 million subscribers) and Jamii Telecom (368,250).

In the period under review (January to March 2023), active mobile subscriptions increased to 66.1 million from 65.7 million reported last quarter. This translated to a mobile (SIM) penetration rate of 130.5 percent, representing a drop of 2.6 percentage points.

Mobile penetration. Source: CA, Operators’ Returns
Source: CA, Operators’ Returns

"The drop of penetration rate is attributed to the review of the country’s population figures from 49.4 million to 50.6 million as per the Economic Survey 2023," CA said in the report.

Active mobile subscriptions refer to those SIM cards used at least once in the last three months and have
generated revenue through making or receiving a call or carrying out a non-voice activity such as sending or receiving an SMS, accessing the internet, Airtime top-up, transacting using mobile money and mobile banking. Activities that do not result in revenue generation such as balance enquiry, unanswered calls, and password resets, amongst other free services, do not qualify a customer account as active.

The report further notes that the number of SIM cards used for machine-to-machine (M2M) purposes grew by 1.9 per cent to 1.53 million by the end of March 2023.

M2M entails subscriptions that are assigned for use in machines and devices (cars, smart meters, consumer electronics) for the exchange of data between networked devices, and are not part of a consumer subscription. For instance, SIM cards in personal navigation devices, smart meters, trains and automobiles are included while mobile dongles and tablet subscriptions are excluded.

Safaricom leads in mobile money subscription

Mobile money subscriptions stood at 38.4 million translating to a penetration rate of 76 per cent which was a drop of 2.2 percentage points as compared to the previous quarter.

Safaricom's M-Pesa had the lion's share at 95 per cent against Airtel Money's 3.4 per cent and T-Kash's 0.1 per cent.

CA attributed the decline in subscriptions to reduced activities in mobile money services during the quarter under review.

Source: CA, Operators’ Returns

During the referenced period, the total mobile data/internet subscriptions stood at 47.96 million out of which 67.1 per cent were on mobile broadband.

Internet Penetration: Source: CA, Operators’ Returns
Source: CA, Operators’ Returns

The total number of mobile phone devices stood at 62.96 million as at the end of March. This translates to a device penetration rate of 124.5 per cent. Penetration for feature phones and smartphones stood at 66.2 per cent and 58.3 per cent respectively.

Mobile users spent an average of 1.7 minutes on on-net calls and 1.1 minutes on off-net calls. Airtel customers spent more time on a single on-net call averaging 2.8 minutes whereas customers of Jamii Telecommunications Limited recorded the highest number of off-net minutes.

During the reference period, the total international Internet bandwidth available in the country grew by 20.4 per cent to 14,413.053 Gbps. The increase is due to capacity upgrade on the cable by TEAMS during the period.

Similarly, the total utilized undersea bandwidth capacity increased by 25.5 per cent to record 5,161.918 Gbps and 2,953.820 Gbps used in the country and sold outside the country respectively.

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