Bloomberg News

Kenya Mobile Phone Users Rise 12% as Bharti Expands Share

June 08, 2011

(Updates with companies’ market share in fifth paragraph.)

June 8 (Bloomberg) -- Kenya’s mobile-phone users rose at the fastest pace in at least a year in the three months through December as the cost of calls fell, the Communications Commission of Kenya said today.

Users increased 12 percent to 25 million in the quarter, the Nairobi-based commission said on its website. The average fee for calls within a network dropped from 2.67 shillings ($0.03) per minute from 3.92 shillings, and for calls between networks it fell to 3.47 shillings from 5.10 shillings, it said.

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki ordered a halt to further cuts in mobile-phone call tariffs after companies including Safaricom Ltd. and Telkom Kenya Ltd. opposed the reductions, Business Daily reported today.

Kibaki ordered that interconnection fees, the rates operators charge each other to connect voice calls across networks, remain at current levels, the Nairobi-based newspaper said, citing a May 18 communication by the president. The Communications Commission ratified the decision, it said.

Airtel Kenya Ltd., controlled by Delhi-based Bharti Airtel Ltd., and Telkom Kenya Ltd., a unit of France Telecom SA, increased their market share during the quarter to 15 percent and 8.5 percent respectively. Safaricom Ltd., the biggest operator, fell to 63 percent from 70 percent. Telkom Kenya added 973,000 new customers followed by Airtel with 815,000 and Safaricom with 737,000.

The number of internet users grew to about 10.2 million from 8.7 million in the previous quarter, while fixed-line telephone customers declined 0.8 percent, the commission said. “Growth in the data market is attributed to three mobile operators having rolled out their 3G services,” it said.

--Editors: Ben Holland, Antony Sguazzin.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Ombok in Nairobi at eombok@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Shaji Mathew at shajimathew@bloomberg.net


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