Ever since Analysys Mason released a report recommending that Safaricom is declared dominant and its mobile money entity separated from its core business, Kenyan telcos have been pushing to have these recommendations or at least part of them implemented.
It has been reported that Telkom, Airtel and other telcos have separately lobbied Member of the National Assembly to push for an amendment to the Kenya Information and Communications Act to declare any telecom with more 50 percent market share is declared dominant.
“We are in a situation where one player has a market control of 65 per cent, bigger than all the other players combined. It is unfair for the rest who are seeing diminishing revenues and can hardly keep up operations,” said Prasanta Das Sarma, Airtel Kenya’s CEO when he appeared before the National Assembly’s ICT committee.
The committee which separately questioned Telkom Kenya’s CEO Aldo Merause, Airtel’s Prasanta Das Sarma, JTL’s Joshua Chepkwony and Liquid Telcom’s general manager for legal Judy Njeru over the dominance claims dismissed the telcos case and urged them to do more to increase their competitiveness.
“We are a free market where the market corrects itself naturally without government intervention. Why would you want Parliament to punish success when one player is doing better than the rest of the telecommunications firms?” asked Mr William Kisang, chair of the National Assembly’s ICT committee.
He went further to address Airtel, telling the CEO that they need to invest more in things like a clearer network, better mobile money services and anything else that will attract customers to them before demanding regulations.
A member of the committee, Mark Nyamita accused Airtel and Telkom of being out of touch with market realities. He accused the two telcos of having poor infrastructure and lack of proper expansion plans as well as lacking in customer care.
“You have changed hands frequently and that affects your strategic direction. As a former Airtel employee, I know that Airtel suffers because of the missteps of its predecessors, starting from KenCell,” Mr Nyamita said.
Interestingly, JTL’s Joshua Chepkwony distant his company from the calls to label Safaricom dominant. He said breaking up Safaricom would be punishing innovation. He proposed measures like national roaming to be put in place to enable the smaller players to compete effectively.
Safaricom currently controls 67% of the market, followed by Airtel at 19.7%, Telkom at 8.6% and Equitel at 4.4%, according to the Communications Authority of Kenya latest stats.