Telecoms operator, Airtel Kenya, has nearly tripled its share of voice market to 33.3 percent in the 18 months to September 2018 piling pressure on key rival, Safaricom #ticker:SCOM.
Latest industry data covering three months to September show that Airtel’s share of voice traffic rose by 3.1 percentage points, making it the fifth consecutive gain in the past five quarters.
“The increase in voice traffic is attributed to introduction of ‘Vuka_2_Tariff’ that enabled prepaid customers to call for Sh2 per minute across all networks,” the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) said.
Airtel’s network reported an increase of 13.8 percent in local mobile voice traffic to 4.7 billion minutes in the period from 4.2 billion minutes recorded in the preceding quarter.
The telco commanded just 12.1 percent of voice market at the end of March 2017 compared with Safaricom’s 82 percent.
Safaricom lost its share of the voice market over the past five quarters to settle at 62.1 percent at the end of September 2018.
The CA data shows that total mobile voice traffic originating from Safaricom network dropped 2.4 percent to 8.9 billion minutes from 9.1 billion minutes reported the previous quarter – a shift that has been attributed to the coming to an end of the firm’s voice call promotion.
“The decline is attributed to expiry of ‘Safaricom Tunukiwa Gifting promotion’ where customers were presented with two options from which to purchase preferred Tunukiwa voice or SMS bundles for self or/and other users,” said the CA.
During this period, the voice market share of Telkom Kenya dropped from 5.3 per cent to 4.3 per cent despite the company registering a 15.6 per cent growth in talk time to 619.3 million minutes.
Airtel’s performance in voice market share also reflected its performance in overall market share where it gained 0.9 per centage points to close at 22.3 per cent. During the period, the firm gained 669,292 new subscribers to hit 10.4 million customers.
Meanwhile, Safaricom’s market share for mobile subscriptions dropped 1.2 percentage points to stand at 64.2 per cent even as it gained 163,593 new subscribers to hit 29.94 million.
The latest figure means between end of March 2017 and end of September 2018, Airtel has gained six percentage points market share while Safaricom has lost 7.7 percentage points. In short message service, Safaricom closed the quarter commanding 94 per cent of all SMs sent, a slight drop from 94.1 per cent in the preceding quarter. Airtel rose marginally from 5.3 per cent to 5.4 per cent.
Airtel, however, lost out in mobile data subscriptions where its market share dropped to 21.9 per cent from the previous quarter’s 22.5 per cent. Safaricom’s share of the market rose from 69.5 per cent to 69.7 per cent.
Safaricom’s M-Pesa continued to dominate in money transfers moving Sh1.585 trillion, up from Sh1.503 trillion in the preceding quarter.
Airtel moved Sh1.153 billion, down from Sh1.27 billion in the preceding quarter despite the number of transactions rising to 4.63 million from 4.14 million.