Equitel eats into Airtel’s mobile customer base

Airtel Kenya lost 600,000 mobile subscribers in the three months to March while new entrant Equitel gained nearly the same number of customers, a quarterly report released on Monday by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) shows.

The report indicates that Airtel’s subscribers declined by 7.8 per cent to seven million in a period that saw its customers, however, talked longer. 

Airtel last year inherited 2.5 million former yuMobile subscribers after a joint buyout deal that saw Safaricom take control of the Indian-owned firm’s frequency spectrum.

Telkom Kenya’s customers increased to 3.7 million up from 3.3 million subscribers reported during the previous quarter.

Equitel, which is Equity Bank’s telecoms unit, reported that it had gained 665,661 mobile subscribers, all on the pre-paid tariff plan.

Safaricom’s  total subscribers grew by three per cent  to  stand  at  23.3  million  up  from 22.6  million  customers listed in second quarter.

“The market share  for  mobile  subscriptions registered during the quarter  experienced slight changes following entry into the market  by Finserve  Africa  Limited  (Equitel) in the  previous quarter,” reads the CA quarterly report.

In terms of market share by subscribers, Airtel lost 2.4 percentage points market share dropping to 20.2 per cent from 22.6 per cent reported in the previous  quarter.

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Airtel increased its the number of post-paid subscribers by 1.5 per  cent  to  stand  at  151,286  up  from  149,020  posted in  the last quarter. 

However, prepaid  subscriptions  declined  to  6.8  million  down  from  7.4  million reported  in  the preceding quarter.

Safaricom’s  market share  declined  by 0.3  percentage  points to  stand  at  67.1  per  cent during  the  period  under  review  down  from  67.4 per cent reported  during  the last quarter.

Telkom  Kenya  (Orange)  gained  0.8  percentage  points  to  reach  10.8 per cent  market share  from last quarter’s performance of 10.0 per cent.

Equitel on the other hand acquired a market share of 1.9 per cent during the quarter.

Mobile voice traffic grew by 10.0 per cent to stand at 8.7 billion up from 7.9 billion minutes recorded during the previous quarter.

“This trend was different from what was reported during the same period of the previous year, during which a 2.7 per cent decline was recorded,” CA said in the report.

On-net mobile voice traffic grew by 7.8 per cent to record 7.5 billion minutes up from 7.0 billion minutes posted during the last quarter.

Safaricom  lost  its  market  share by voice traffic   by 6.3 percentage  points  to  register 71.7  percent  market  share down  from 78.0 percent  share  recorded  in the  last  quarter.

However, its total traffic volume increased to 6.28 billion up from 6.22 billion minutes registered during the previous quarter.  On-net  and  off-net  traffic  stood  at  5.9  billion minutes  and  327  million minutes respectively during the quarter under review.

Airtel Kenya’s voice traffic rose to 1.8 billion minutes up from 1.2 billion minutes posted during the last quarter, representing a 4.8 percentage points growth to stand at 21.0 per cent up from 16.2 per cent share reported during the previous quarter.

Telkom  Kenya gained  in  total  mobile  voice  traffic  to register 617 million minutes during the period up from 458 million minutes registered in the last quarter, growing its market share  to 7.1  from 5.7 per  cent  share  reported  in  the  previous  quarter.