Kenyan competition boosted by converged licensing – R&M

Kenyan competition boosted by converged licensing – R&M

Kenya's telecommunications market continues to undergo considerable changes in the wake of increased competition, improved international connectivity, and rapid developments in the mobile market.

The latest market report from Research & Markets notes that the landing of four fibre-optic international submarine cables in recent years dramatically reduced the cost of phone calls and internet access, allowing internet services to be affordable to a far greater proportion of the population. In parallel, the sector's regulator has reduced interconnection tariffs and implemented a range of regulations aimed at developing further competition.

The incumbent fixed-line telco, Telkom Kenya, which was managed by Orange Group from 2007 until it was sold to Helios in November 2015, has struggled to make headway in the competitive market. Market pressures encouraged the operator to undergo a reorganisation in 2018 which included a sale and leaseback arrangement with its mobile tower portfolio. In early 2019 the company signed a merger agreement with Airtel Kenya in which Telkom will retain a 49% share in the merged business.

A simplified and converged licensing regime introduced in 2008 has lowered the barriers to market entry and increased competition by allowing operators to offer any kind of service in a technology- and service-neutral regulatory framework. Numerous competitors are rolling out national and metropolitan fibre backbone networks and wireless access networks to deliver services to population centres across the country. Several fibre infrastructure sharing agreements have been forged, and as a result the number of fibre broadband connections increased 94% in the year to September 2018.

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