Safaricom continued to exert its dominance on Kenya’s mobile money and telecommunications sectors during Q2 2017, increasing its share of both mobile subscribers and financial service customers.
Figures released by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), covering the three months to the end of June, show Safaricom’s share of mobile subscribers grew 1 per cent during the quarter to 72.6 per cent. Airtel was the second largest operator with a share of 15.3 per cent of the country’s 40.3 million total subscribers, with Telkom Kenya holding a 7.2 per cent share.
Safaricom’s m-Pesa subscription numbers increased 0.5 per cent to 80.5 per cent. By the end of June, the company had 22.6 million of Kenya’s 28 million mobile money users on its m-Pesa platform.
Equitel stood a distant second with 1.9 million subscribers, up from 1.7 million in Q1. Former market number two Mobikash reported flat subscriber numbers of 1.7 million.
Airtel Money, which just signed a deal to offer loan and saving services through its platform, lost 200,000 subscribers in Q2, leaving it with 1.5 million users by end-June.
Safaricom’s m-Pesa platform processed 79 per cent of the 481 million transactions made in Kenya over the three months. As a whole, the sector reported 10 million more transactions than Q1 2017 and added half a million subscriptions.
However, the total value of mobile money transactions in Q2 stood at KES1.2 trillion ($11.8 billion), broadly the same as in Q1.
The dominance of Safaricom in Kenya’s communication sector is nothing new, though news of its increasing share may serve to highlight its overwhelming influence to critics.
In the first half of 2017, prior to a troubled election process which is still going on, there were calls from officials to break-up Safaricom to curb its power. The CA also commissioned a report on the sector to investigate ways to increase competition.
Following intense media speculation, both the government and regulator released statements denying Safaricom would be forced to divide its business.
Since the official statements on its future, Safaricom made a number of upgrades to m-Pesa including unveiling touch devices and enhanced security. It is also in the process of planning its expansion into new markets alongside major shareholder Vodacom.