Kenya’s three mobile operators were hit with a total of KES311 million ($3 million) in fines for failing to meet the regulator’s quality of service targets – the fourth successive financial year none of the country’s operators have met the standard.
The fines, issued by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), cover the 12 months to end-June 2016, but were only announced today (12 January).
Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom Kenya each received a warning from the regulator in addition to the fines which equate to 0.15 per cent of each company’s “financial returns” for the following fiscal year (to end-June 2017).
CA sets an 80 per cent minimum threshold for compliance with a number of quality of service parameters including dropped calls and network availability.
The authority said Safaricom scored 62.5 per cent in 2015/16, while Airtel and Telkom Kenya were both rated at 75 per cent. Overall results – the regulator said – represented an improvement on its evaluation of the previous year when the average score was 62.5 per cent, though the CA still described the quality of service as poor.
It added future assessments would measure a wider number of parameters and take data samples from a greater number of locations as “part of efforts to continually improve the assessment of compliance by the operators.”
Under the microscope
The announcement comes during a period of intense scrutiny of Kenya’s telecoms market.
Earlier this month the regulator was accused of failing to address the dominance of Safaricom, which held a market share of 72 per cent of the country’s mobile connections at end Q3 2017 (the latest period for which the operator released figures).
CA is set to unveil a report compiled by analyst company Analysys Mason later this month outlining proposals to stimulate competition in the sector.
The recommendations contained in the report have been subject to wide speculation since a draft version leaked to media in February 2017, reportedly containing a – now dropped – suggestion Safaricom could be forced to separate its m-Pesa mobile money unit from its wireless operations.