Kenya’s mobile subscription numbers top 30.5 million

Kenya’s number of cell phone subscribers, text messages, mobile money transactions and data users are all growing while the country’s is relying less on voice services and fixed line offerings.

This is according to the Communications Commision of Kenya (CCK) ICT sector fourth quarter report for the financial year 2012/13, which highlights developments in the country’s cellular mobile, fixed line, internet data, postal and courier, electronic transactions and broadcasting landscape.

The report starts off by saying that Kenya’s number of mobile subscriptions has grown 2.3% from the previous quarter to hit 30.5 million, resulting in the country having a 77.3% penetration rate. Kenya has a population of just over 43 million according to the World Bank.

With regard to Kenya’s mobile sector, the CCK says growth in usage over the period could be attributed to a combination of additional subscribers as well as possible re-subscription by those switched off in a SIM card registration drive earlier this year.

Pre-paid mobile phone services, meanwhile, have continued their dominance of Kenya’s mobile space, as they accounted for 99% of total subscriptions during the quarter.

The CCK adds that total local mobile traffic declined by 1.1%, recording a total of 7.1 billion minutes compared to 7.18 billion in the previous quarter. The overall mobile voice traffic per subscriber dropped from 81.1 minutes recorded in the previous quarter to 78.4 minutes.

“The decline in mobile voice traffic could be due to availability of other more affordable communication alternatives such as SMS and other mobile applications such as WhatsApp that have continued to gain popularity and hence affecting growth in local mobile traffic,” says the CCK.

However, text message usage has grown in Kenya as the total number of SMS messages stood at 4.3 billion up from 4.0 billion posted in the previous quarter.

The CCK says each subscriber line averaged 47 SMS messages per month for the period.

Also, mobile money transfer subscriptions increased from 23.2 million in the previous quarter to 24.8 million in the quarter under review, recording a 6.8% growth, says the CCK..

“Comparing the financial years 2012/13 and 2011/12 the number of mobile money transfer
subscriptions rose by 27.3% overall,” says the CCK.

“Similarly, the number of mobile money transfer agents grew significantly to record 88,466 agents during the quarter up from 74,216 registered during the previous quarter, representing a growth of 19.2%,” adds the regulatory watchdog.

This figure is in line with Kenyan mobile operator Safaricom’s half year report, which points to its number of M-Pesa users having grown to 11.5 million from 9.72 million in the same period during 2012.

Kenya’s fixed line market, though, continues to be hard-hit, as a downward trend that characterised the CCK’s previous quarter has carried on in the fourth quarter.

Fixed line subscriber numbers have fallen 2.2% from 221,287 in the previous quarter to 216,469..

The CCK attributes the drop in fixed lines mainly to a 5.2% decrease in fixed terrestrial lines from 59,851 in the preceding period to 56,724 lines.

In spite of Kenya’s shrinking fixed line market, the country’s internet and data market has posted strong growth of 28.4% to reach 12.4 million subscriptions compared to 9.6 million in the previous quarter.

This means that compared to the same period last year, Kenya’s number of internet users have increased by 61%.

“This growth could be largely driven by the numerous promotions and special offers on internet/data by the mobile operators as a strategy towards growing their market shares,” says the CCK.

“Moreover, mobile data/internet subscriptions have continued to dominate the Internet/data market contributing 99% of the total Internet/data subscriptions,” adds the CCK.

Furthermore, the number of broadband subscriptions grew 36.9% from the previous quarter to reach 1.39 million.

Other results from the CCK quarterly report indicate that international internet bandwidth available in the country increased to 862,850 Mbps from 818,119 Mbps, the number of letters sent fell to 13.2 million from 16.2 million in the last quarter, the number of active registered domain names increased by 6.2% to reach 27,374, there were 109 FM radio stations up from 102 FM stations, and the number of existing analogue TV channels which had activated their signal on the digital broadcasting platform stood at 13 out of the 14 existing analogue TV channels.


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