The heritage of Kenya’s telecommunications sector dates back to the country’s pre-independence days – the 1940s and 1950s. With the advent of independence and the eventual institutionalisation of the East African Community (EAC), our telecommunications network was to become part of the larger East African Posts and Telecommunication Corporation (EAPTC). This ended in 1977, with the dissolution of the EAC, and the Kenya Posts and Telecommunication Corporation was set up to cater for the country’s post and telephony services.
1999 saw the eventual split of KPTC into three separate entities: Telkom Kenya to provided telephony service, the Postal Corporation of Kenya to provide postal service and the Communications Commission of Kenya (now the Communications Authority of Kenya) as the industry’s regulator. Mobile operator Safaricom, that was initially a department within Telkom Kenya, would be hived off, to become an independent entity, providing mobile telephony services
In 2007 France Télécom (Orange Kenya) acquired 51% of Telkom Kenya’s shares, while the remaining shares were held by the Kenyan government.
In March 2008, Telkom Kenya launched its mobile network under the brand Orange Kenya, ensuring that it was no longer a fixed-line business but a fully integrated telco service provider.
In 2009, Telkom was part of the team that was involved in the setting up of the country’s first submarine cable and has shareholding in TEAMS (The East African Marine System) and LION II (Lower Indian Ocean Network II).
In 2011, Telkom Kenya launched its 3G network in the country.
In November 2012 it was subsequently confirmed that the Kenya government would retain 40% shareholding down from 49% with the remaining shares held by France Télécom.
In January 2013, France Télécom increased its stake in Telkom Kenya to 70% as a consequence of the government’s failure to provide its full portion of 2012 funding.
A New Beginning
On June 13th 2016, Telkom Kenya went through a change of ownership. Helios Investment Partners, the largest African only Private Equity firm, acquired a 60% stake in Telkom and the Government of Kenya increased its stake from 30% to 40%.
This saw the exit of Orange Kenya from the Kenyan market and Telkom Kenya was to continue using Orange branding for a period of 18 months, after which the company would be required to rebrand.
Telkom Kenya begun its transformational milestone with a focus on five key areas:
- Culture and Brand: The company had to reinvigorate the spirit of its employees and to transform the Company Culture. They adopted new values:
They incorporated a new Mission: “To provide the best value for a simpler life, efficient business and stronger communities”, a new vision: “Connecting the people that make Kenya move”.
The company also re-organized into Business Units (Mobile, Enterprise, Carrier Services and Mobile Financial Services) to make it focused, accountable and responsible.
Finally they strengthened their management team with a series of high profile hires from across the Telecom industry in Kenya and internationally.
- Sales and Distribution: Telkom Kenya is in the process of increasing its presence across the different customer touchpoints. This includes enhancing availability of their agents, and increasing the number of our retail shops by two as well as intensifying engagement with distribution networks.
- Network: Telkom Kenya has invested a total of 5 Billion shillings in network and infrastructure expansion and densification. The company has increased th number of sites by 50% to over 1600 sites all across the country. On June 6, 2017, Telkom Kenya launched their 4G/LTE network across 28 towns in Kenya.
- Innovation: The company’s focus of innovation is directed towards mobile money. Telkom Kenya is said to be working a new platform that will be “disruptive and flexible in all means, particularly suited to the young digitally savvy generation.”
- Launch of new, customer-centric products: During their rebrand, the company promised to unveil a number of aggressive data offerings over the coming weeks, but as a start, they announced 4GForFree and WhatsApp for Free.
Telkom Kenya acknowledges that over the years it had not reached its potential and was lagging behind its peers, however, the company notes that this is about to change as it reiterates its long term commitment to keeping Kenya on the move.