What Does The Data Say? Kenya’s ICT Sector Reports

Source: Communications Authority



The Communications Authority, industry regulator of the ICT sector in Kenya recently set out the quarter sector statistics report for the financial year 2016/2017. The complete report is accessible here.

About the Report

This ICT Sector Quarterly Statistics Report for the First Quarter of the Financial Year 2016/17 provides an overview of the ICT sector performance and development of trends in several service categories; mobile and fixed telephony, data/internet service, broadcasting and postal and courier service.

Mobile Subscriptions

There has been a decline in number of mobile subscriptions currently at 38.5 million down from 39.7 million reported during the previous quarter marking a decline of 3.0 per cent.

Mobile Penetration

The quarter noted reduced mobile penetration by 2.7% which reduced to 87.3 per cent down from 90.0 per cent recorded during the preceding quarter.

Mobile Money and Digital Payments

The report highlights the importance of Financial Technology (FinTech) and e – commerce in the country.

A total of 400.6 million transactions were made valued at over Ksh.1 trillion. The period also recorded 247.9 million mobile commerce transactions amounting to Ksh. 447.3 billion.

The total value of person to person transfers during the quarter was valued at Ksh. 474.5 billion.

Inter – Mobile Network Traffic

Total traffic originating from one mobile network to another grew by 4.8 per cent during the quarter.

Traffic to other mobile networks increased by 7.7 per cent to 1.29 billion minutes during the quarter up from 1.20 billion minutes the preceding quarter.

Incoming traffic from other networks was recorded at 1.25 billion minutes during the quarter under review, an increase of 5.0 per cent

SMS and OTTs messaging

During the period under review, the number of messages sent through the Short Messaging Service (SMS) rose to 12.2 billion up from 11.6 billion sent during the preceding quarter.

The volume of international incoming mobile SMS was recorded at 9.6 million messages down from 9.8 million messages recorded in the preceding quarter representing a drop of 2.1 per cent during the quarter.

This could be attributed to the increased uptake and use of OTT messaging apps such as Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger and Telegram. Interestingly enough, the number of local text messages actually rose, perhaps due to the bundling of services such as Airtel’s unliminet and Orange’s holla which provide for calls, data and SMS bundles.


International incoming voice traffic declined significantly by 52.4 per cent during the quarter under review to stand at 132.0 million minutes down from 277.4 million minutes in the previous quarter

This could be attributed to new OTT additional features such as Whatsapp Voice and Video calls but also OTTs such as Viber, Google’s Hangouts and Microsoft’s Skype


International bandwidth available in the country recorded a substantial growth of 17.2 per cent to stand at 2.02 million Mbps up from 1.73 million Mbps recorded in the last quarter.

This was mainly attributed to the increase of SEACOM’s capacity by 31.6 percent to reach 1.25 million Mbps during the quarter under review up from 0.95 million Mbps recorded in the previous quarter.

On the other hand, TEAMs capacity declined by 0.3 per cent to register at 700,000 Mbps while EASSY and Lion2 available bandwidth remained unchanged at 39,060 and 39,210 respectively.


The digital broadcasting signal covers 60 per cent of the Kenyan population. The number of free-to-air TV channels on the digital terrestrial platform stood at 63 while number of pay TV service providers on the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) remained at 2: GoTV and StarTimes.

Set top Boxes

The number of digital Set Top Boxes purchased during the quarter under review stood at 226 Free-to-Air set top boxes; 90,216 for Pay TV and 4,024 for Cable TV.

FM Radio Stations

The number of FM radio stations in the country stood at 139 stations as at 30th September 2016.

Fixed Network Subscriptions

International incoming voice traffic declined significantly by 52.4 per cent during the quarter to stand at 132.0 million minutes down from 277.4 million minutes posted in the last quarter.

Data and Internet

Interestingly enough, the number of Internet subscriptions declined to 25.6 million down from 26.8 million subscriptions in the last quarter, representing a 4.5 per cent drop attributed to the revision of Internet subscriptions data by Telkom Kenya Limited.

On the other hand, there was a nominal growth on estimated Internet users of 2,071 subscriptions to stand at 37.7 million. This translated to Internet/data penetration level of 85.3 per cent during the quarter.

Of utmost importance to note is that mobile data subscriptions contributed 99 per cent of the total data. This means most Kenyans accessing the internet do so through the mobile service providers and telcos.

Terrestrial wireless data subscriptions increased during the period under review to register 15,835 subscriptions up from 13,449 recorded during the last quarter marking a growth of 17.7 per cent. Likewise, surprisingly enough, satellite subscriptions registered a remarkable increase of 113.6 per cent to stand at 598 subscriptions up from 280 subscriptions registered in the last quarter.

Unsurprisingly, fibre optic subscriptions grew by 20.7 per cent to stand at 33,269 subscriptions during the period up from 27,571 subscriptions recorded the previous period. Fixed cable modem subscriptions recorded an increase of 8.4 per cent to post 83,789 subscriptions up from 77,319 subscriptions recorded in the previous quarter.

The number of people using the Internet remained unchanged at 85.3 users per 100 inhabitants which places kenya as one of the highest internet penetration states globally.

Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD)

The number of dot KE (.KE) domain names as at 30th September 2016 were at 60,998 with “.co.ke” (for companies) having the highest share with 92.74 per cent while “.mobi.ke” recorded the lowest share at 0.08 per cent.

There is an evident increase in personal sites and emails uptake under .ke domain.

Postal and Courier Services

One of the interesting insights is that the number of letters posted locally witnessed a slight increase of 3.6 per cent to stand at 17.2 million letters up from 16.6 million letters registered in the previous quarter.

Despite the availability of e-services in the country, the demand for use of postal and courier services is still high. The sub sector traffic recorded a slight growth during the quarter and this was occasioned by the beginning of examination period where people were sending success cards to their relatives and friends.

Reading into the Numbers

The uptake of ICT services in Kenya has remained high over a period of time. The mobile sector has grown to be a key pillar in facilitating the expansion of the economy in provision of services such as mobile financial services, M-education, M-agriculture among other services. The growth of mobile money subscriptions has enhanced digital financial inclusion in the country.

SMS traffic remained fairly high during the quarter as was the case in the previous quarter despite the growing popularity of OTTs. This is mainly attributed to introduction of new SMS tariffs and promotions by the operators, which may be viewed as operators attempt to compete with OTT messaging services.

The data/Internet usage continues to grow in the country, bringing with it new ways of transacting, communicating, learning, socializing, and transforming every aspect of daily life. With the expanded availability of Internet bandwidth, the growth of Internet usage is expected to rise in the country.

When it’s all said and done

This sector report highlights key concerns in the ICT industry and the importance of research – based policy making cannot be over emphasized. It is commendable that the Regulator is not only required to publish regular sector reports but actually does for the benefit of the State, industry players, business owners and stakeholders.

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'I speak legalese, understand the tech and hack the law.' June Okal is a legal professional in Technology, Media and Telecommunications Law Practice and Co - Organizer of Nairobi Legal Hackers. Her focus areas are Innovation, Intellectual Property and Internet Governance.