Kenya’s Explosive Voice and Data Growth

At the back of our minds we’ve known for a while, and it has been variously predicted, that mobile telephony subscribers will quickly outpace growth in fixed service, and that more and more users are getting connected online as internet access becomes more ubiquitous.

But to what extent do the numbers actually back up these claims? I dug through the Communication Commission of Kenya’s (CCK) Q2 08/09 Quarterly Report [pdf] and made some interesting finds that not only affirm these predictions, but also depict a positive outlook on Kenya’s technology future.

Here are some quick hits.

Mobile Networks

Kenya currently has four mobile service providers – Safaricom, Zain Kenya, Orange Kenya and Econet Wireless. Combined they have a total subscriber base of over 16.2 million users, a 30% year-on-year growth.

Kenya Mobile Telephony SubscribersClick for larger image

Clearly, the SP’s made an effort to reach more users through creative marketing (reduced/free calling and messaging rates) and/or expanded network infrastructure. Local mobile and VoIP traffic also went up astronomically.

The high user subscription have sort of been a double-edged sword for SP’s because while overall revenues increased by 25.2% in 2007-2008, Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) has declined. This has been attributed to increased competition that has resulted in lower tariffs and that most of the subscriber growth is among low-income groups.

Fixed Networks

The only real action this segment is seeing is from Telkom Kenya’s fixed wireless line. Wireline (and surprisingly Local Loop Operator’s) growth is at best stagnated and in many cases going into decline.

Kenya Fixed Telephone SubscribersClick for larger image

What’s interesting to note here Telkom’s fixed CDMA subscriber base has grown by about 48% year-on-year, even in the presence of the erstwhile stalwarts Safaricom and Zain. That’s what an aggressive marketing drive and cash to spare will get you. I suspect now they firmly have 1 million subscribers in their sights.

Data Networks

Internet users have soared by 15% year-on-year to over 3.3million. More users are getting online and especially through wireless connectivity devices.

Kenya's Internet SubscribersClick for larger image

Also growing are revenues from internet services, up 16% from 2007-2008.

What’s Missing?

Some stats I’d love to see are some current numbers on connected households as well as the respective methods of connectivity – cable, DSL, dial-up, 3G/HSPA or WiMAX.

Communications Sector Statistics Report Q2 08/09 [CCK]