Safaricom Loses Market Share for Second Straight Quarter

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Peter Ndegwa Safaricom

Safaricom has dropped a further percentage point of subscriber market share in the three months to the end of September, making it the second consecutive quarter when the big telco has lost its share to other networks. The recently released Sector Statistics report by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), reveals a slight drop in both Safaricom’s sim and broadband subscribers.

“Safaricom PLC and Telkom Kenya LTD lost their market shares in Mobile (SIM) and broadband Subscriptions as Airtel Networks gain in both areas,” CA commented in its report.

The report shows that CA September had 67.1 million total mobile subscriptions with Safaricom leading with 44.1 million subscribers (43 million prepaid subscribers).

Despite gaining an additional 200,000 subscribers in the quarter ending in September, Safaricom has registered a marginal drop of 0.4% in the number of sim subscriptions. This is down to 65.7% from the 66.1% market share the telco held in the previous quarter.

In addition, the telco closed the quarter with 61.9% of total broadband subscriptions, translating to a 0.9% drop from 62.8% in the previous quarter ending in June.

Similarly, although a slight drop, Safaricom also registered a 0.1% drop (down from 66.2% in Q3 to 66.1% in Q4) in subscriber market share between Q3 and Q4 of the 2022/2023 financial year.

The report by CA also shows that Telkom Kenya has also lost its market share in the same markets. Telkom Kenya finished the quarter with 2.1 million subscribers dropping from 3.8% to 3.1% in subscriber market share.

In the same period, meanwhile, Airtel Kenya has seen an increase in the number of both sim and broadband subscriptions. During the period July to September 2023, Airtel Kenya’s subscriber market share jumped from 27.2% to 28.2%. This saw Airtel gain 800,000 new subscribers hitting a total of 18.9 million subscribers (18.8 million prepaid subscribers).

State of mobile money services in Kenya

The Q1 Sector Statistics of the financial year 2023/2024 shows that the mobile money penetration stands at 75.2% with the number of subscriptions reaching 38.1 million. This translates to a 0.1% increase in the penetration rate as compared to the previous quarter. The number of mobile money agents also grew to 338,209.

What is the market share per provider as of September 2023? Safaricom’s M-PESA still holds the lion’s share when it comes to mobile money services. It currently holds a 97% share of the market. Airtel Money comes second with 2.9% while Telkom’s T-Kash comes third with a mere 0.1% market share.

Notably, Equity’s Equitel doesn’t get factored in the CA numbers as it’s more of a bank-based service rather than a mobile money product.

Smartphones vs feature phones

Another interesting revelation in the CA report is that for the first time, the number of smartphones in Kenya has overtaken those of feature phones in the country. We delve into certain factors that could have prompted the significant adoption of smartphones in the country.