Safaricom FY2017: Incoming Voice and SMS Revenue Decline


To no one’s surprise, voice and data aren’t doing as good as they were a few years ago. 2017’s Safaricom’s financials have revealed that sms revenue went down by 32.7% from bringing in 41.50 billion shillings in 2016 to 55.08 billion shillings in 2017.

Incoming voice revenue has also declined by 7.3%. In 2016, Safaricom earned 7.14 billion shillings from it, this number declined to 6.62 billion shillings in 2017. However, outgoing voice revenue went up by 3.8% bringing in 86.84 billion shillings. In total, the voice revenue was 93.46 billion, a slight 2.9% growth from last year.

We could speculate that the growth of data usage among Safaricom subscribers has led to the decline of voice and sms usage. Messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Telegram and Messenger have all integrated voice calling features within them, they have even gone a step further to integrate video calling, all which directly affect voice and sms usage.

The increasing number of smartphone users and the convenience brought by messaging apps are driving sms and voice to the grave. I could easily argue that sms and voice are more expensive than data.

Safaricom has 16.6 million monthly active mobile data customers and each user consumes about 269MBs per month which translates to about Ksh.153 spent on data per month. We don’t know the figures for voice but we do know that the usage for both voice and SMS reduced from 61% in 2016 to 54% in 2017.

Strangely, the revenue brought by both sms and outgoing voice increased from 108.2 billion shillings in 2016 to 110.1 billion in 2017 despite the decline in usage. Maybe those Sportpesa and promotional texts have contributed to this growth.

Noting that there is a decline in incoming voice and not in outgoing voice revenue, it is safe to assume that Safaricom subscribers make more calls than they receive. Reason for this? I honestly can’t think of one, besides that most people have two sim cards from different service providers, such as Airtel, that they use for calls since, well, it is cheaper.

Looking forward, Safaricom has tried to subsidize calls and sms charges to encourage people to use these services. Doubt me? Just look at your Tunukiwa offers (*444#) and you’ll see how highly discounted calls and sms are as opposed to data.

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