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Kenya's mobile phone uptake falls for first time


Kenya's mobile phone uptake falls for first time

Tuesday June 27 2023

Mobile phone users. The number of mobile phones in Kenya fell by 397,429 in the first three months to March 2023. FILE PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK.

The number of mobile phones in Kenya fell by 397,429 in the first three months to March 2023, the first decline since the launch of the industry trends report by the Communications Authority (CA) last year.

As at March 2023, the number of mobile devices stood at 62.9 million, a 0.63 percent drop compared to the preceding quarter (September to December 2022), with smartphones recording the steepest decline and accounting for 64 percent of the total.

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“The total mobile phone devices stood at 62.96 million as at the end of the reference period. This translates to a penetration 124.5 percent. Penetration for feature phones and smartphones stood at 66.2 percent and 58.3 percent respectively”, CA states in its latest report.

The authority does not provide reasons for the drop in the number of devices and had not responded to Business Daily queries by the time of going to press.

Read: Safaricom reveals plan to set up smartphone factory

The decline in devices notwithstanding, the number of SIM cards reported in the country posted a marginal increase of 0.5 percent from 65.7 million to 66.1 million in the period under review.

Pre-paid subscribers account for the lion’s share at 64.7 million, representing 98 percent of total SIM cards against 1.3 million of those that are categorised as post-paid.

Safaricom Plc retains the biggest share of registered users at 66 percent followed by Airtel Kenya at 27 percent and Telkom Kenya at 4.2 percent.

The authority, however, notes that there has been a drop in the SIM card penetration rate, which is principally due to the revision of the country’s population size as per the Economic Survey of 2023.

“This translated to a mobile (SIM) penetration rate of 130.5 percent, representing a drop of 2.6 percentage points. The drop of penetration rate is attributed to the review of the country’s population figures from 49.4 million to 50.6 million as per the Economic Survey 2023”, the authority says.

The report further shows that the number of mobile money subscriptions reported a decline in the period between the two quarters, closing at 38.4 million compared to 38.6 million in the quarter that ended in December 2022.

This decline took place even as the registered number of mobile money agents increased by 3.9 percent from 318,607 as at December 2022 to 331,065 as at March 2023.

“Mobile money subscriptions stood at 38.4 million, translating to a penetration rate of 76 percent, which was a drop of 2.2 percentage points. The decline in the subscriptions is attributed to reduced activities in mobile money services during the quarter under review”, the authority says.

In the period under review, the total mobile data consumed by registered users stood at 208,565 gigabytes (GBs) up 21 percent compared to the volume of data consumed in the period ended December 2022.

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