Airtel to launch 4G Network in tough Kenyan market

By Christine Muchira/Release

Airtel Kenya is finally rolling out its long awaited 4GE LTE service in the country.

The company recorded an impressive 2.5 per cent increase in its mobile data/ internet subscriptions to 21.2 per cent, up from 18.7 per cent in the previous quarter as stated in the first quarter sector statistics by industry regulator, Communications Authority.

The initial pilot rollout of 20 sites in Nairobi is expected to be up and running by the end of this month, followed by 65 more sites in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu.

The full-fledged rollout will commence from April 2017 across the country.

A 4G network would have some clear benefits for our consumers like faster browsing, ability to enjoy more media on devices and not to mention being able to work smarter.

The roll out will bring the Airtel sites in Kenya to 1,563, up from 1,211 two years ago, a 30% increase in Airtel’s sites across the country over the period.

Airtel Kenya’s roll out of 4G network comes at a time when Kenya’s telecommunications industry is recording significant wins and losses across all sectors from mobile and fixed telephony, data/internet subscriptions as well as broadband, postal and courier services, according to the latest numbers.

According to the just released sector report by the Communication Authority (CA) of Kenya, Airtel Kenya posted a significant market share growth, with a gain of 0.9 percentage points to end the quarter on a market share of 17.5 per cent, up from 16.6 per cent in the previous quarter.

Airtel’s performance is accredited to its continued investment to drive innovation, enhance network quality and improve customer service delivery.

Airtel Kenya’s CEO, Adil El Youssefi attributed the company’s improved performance to investment in innovative services.

“We are happy with our performance in the first quarter, and we attribute the gains to the company’s continued investment in network expansion, the introduction of innovative and value for money services and our resolve to provide the best customer experience,” he said.

He added: “The company remains committed to competing in the Kenyan market and providing choice to Kenyans by further investing in the rollout of 4G services in the next few months and the continued expansion of its network coverage to ensure consistent delivery of quality and value for money services to its customers. All the steps taken recently with regards to human resources and infrastructure have been geared towards getting ready to grow in the medium to long term, efficiently and sustainably.”

Overall, Kenya’s telecommunications sector recorded notable gains in mobile money services where subscriptions and mobile money agents grew to 31.0 million and 169,698 respectively during the quarter under review.

A total of 400.6 million transactions were made valued at over Sh1 trillion.

But the industry has also recorded significant decline in mobile subscriptions whereby the number of mobile subscriptions stood at 38.5 million down from previous quarter which was 39.7 million therefore marking a 3 per cent decline.

This is largely attributed to the heightened crackdown on subscribers who use the services to commit various criminal activities, especially mobile money fraud.

Commenting on Airtel Africa’s over-all performance in the third quarter, Raghunath Mandava, Airtel Africa MD said, “Underlying Africa revenue growth for the quarter accelerated to 6.0 per cent Y-o-Y, the highest in last 9 quarters.Our efforts to improve the quality of customer acquisitions have resulted in reduction in customer churn to 4.9 per cent from 6.0 per cent.

Mr. Mandava added, “Data consumption and revenues have grown by 91.0 per cent & 24.0 per cent Y-o-Y respectively, led by stronger data networks. Our strong focus on cost control has led to a significant underlying EBITDA margin expansion of 4.9 per cent Y-o-Y, which now stands at 24.5 per cent. Africa is now generating positive free cash and is PBT positive in constant currency”.

It seems that Airtel Kenya’s performance is turning the tide of an otherwise plateauing industry, with the reports showing a general decline in the number of data/internet subscriptions experienced in the quarter under review.

The industry has also recorded nominal growth on estimated Internet users of 2,071 subscriptions to stand at 37.7 million, translating to Internet/data penetration level of 85.3 per cent during the quarter.

connectivity hence giving  them access to unlimited amount of relevant educational information available online.