Number of Kenyans Using “Kabambe” Phones is Reducing

feature phone or kabambe

The number of Kenyans using Feature Phones colloquially referred to as “Kabambe” has reduced by 4%. Kenyans with Kabambe phones reduced from 33,475,476 to 32,140,606.

On a more positive note, smartphone users increased by 4.4%. Indeed, the growth from 29,487,846  to 30,793,395 indicates more adoption of Smart devices by Kenyans. This is good considering the global sale of smartphones has been declining.

The data was revealed by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) report for the Fourth Quarter of the Financial Year 2022/2023. A recent survey by GSMA revealed that the adoption of smartphones by users had an overall positive impact on their lives. Furthermore, the report indicated that more women in low- and middle-income countries are using mobile internet than ever before. Hence, the reduced use of Kabambe phones is a positive sign for Kenya.

In Kenya, overall Mobile subscription continues to grow. For the period in reference, active mobile (SIM) subscriptions grew by 0.6 percent to record 66.4 million as of 30th  June. However, compared to the same period last year, the rate of subscription has reduced. The CA attributes the slow growth to the SIM registration exercise that kicked off in February 2022. This exercise resulted in the deactivation of unregistered SIM cards.

Active SIM (Mobile) Subscriptions refer to those SIM Cards used at least once in the last three months and have generated revenue. Revenue is generated through making or receiving a call or carrying out a non-voice activity such as sending or receiving an SMS. Additionally, it is generated by accessing the Internet, airtime top-up, and transacting using mobile money and mobile banking.

If a SIM is online but is not used in any revenue-generating activity, it does not qualify as an active subscription.

Number of post-paid Subscriptions Declines

Notably, the number of post-paid sim subscriptions in Kenya fell by 52,649 in the quarter ended June 2023 to 1.27M. Post Paid accounts for only 1.9% of total mobile sim card subscriptions with Safaricom dominating with 1,166,545 subscribers out of 1,270,545 post-paid Subscriptions.

Image from Communications Authority of Kenya Q4 report

The reduced rate of active mobile subscriptions aligns with the reduction in Mobile Money subscribers. There was a drop of 1.1% in new mobile money subscriptions compared to the last quarter. The reduction has been consistent since the great leap in subscriptions witnessed in the first quarter. That leap was attributed to the introduction of the Hustler Fund.

However, the number of  Registered Mobile Money Agents witnessed a slight growth of 0.7%. Currently, there are 333,753 Registered Mobile Money Agents in Kenya.

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