NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
The entrance of U.S. tech giant
Facebook in the Kenyan internet market has triggered price wars
among telecoms, with each fighting to protect their market.
The U.S. firm introduced its low-cost internet in the East
African nation about a month ago, stepping up competition with
telecoms that were already in fierce rivalry before Facebook
Facebook, following a partnership with a local firm,
introduced its Express Wi-fi data bundles that cost 40 megabyte
(MB) at 0.10 dollars, 100 MB at 0.20 U.S. dollars, 300MB at 0.50
dollars, 25 gigabyte (GB) at 2 dollars and 3GB at 5 dollars.
While the service is available in few select suburbs in
Nairobi and its environs, Facebook has triggered fierce price
wars in the Kenyan market pushing internet charges considerably
down as data becomes the latest battleground for telecoms.
With revenue from voice having plateaued and mobile money
market firmly in the hands of leading telecom Safaricom, amid
the surge in smartphones, data is the new frontier to grow
Safaricom, Orange and Airtel are, therefore, fighting to
attract and keep internet users on their networks with lower
tariffs that have seen Kenyans pay 4.9 U.S. dollars for 1.2
gigabyte (GB) of data for a month, what was not there before
The data bundles, for some telecoms, comes with free voice
minutes and SMSs across all networks every day as they seek to
leverage on what Facebook cannot offer.
Safaricom is the leading mobile data provider with 63 percent
market share, followed by Airtel Kenya at 21 percent and Orange
at 7 percent.
The others are Finserve and Sema Ltd.
Orange and Airtel are eager to raise their market share,
thus, have come up with irresistibly lower prices to customers
as they also fights off Facebook.
"Get bundles that are worth every cent. 250MB at 1 U.S.
dollars for 7 days," offered Airtel Tuesday.
On the other hand, Orange is selling 20MB at 0.17 dollars
which lasts for seven days and comes with free calls, like
Airtel having revised the charges downwards the last two weeks
The two telecoms are lower than their rival Safaricom, and
they have forced it to push its charges even lower as it seeks
to guard its subscribers.
"Browse for less with Safaricom daily bundles of 35MB plus 35
SMSs at 0.20 dollars," the company told subscribers Tuesday in
an advert. Safaricom’s mobile data revenue in its latest
financial results grew 46 per cent to 13 million dollars.
As at September last year, according to the Communication
Authority of Kenya (CA), internet subscriptions stood at 27
million, with users hitting 38 million to push data penetration
level across the country at 85.3 per cent.
Mobile data subscriptions account for 99 per cent of the
total internet subscriptions in Kenya, which present a huge
opportunity to telecoms that have revised their charges
downwards to lure users on their side.
Bernard Mwaso, a consultant with Edell IT Solutions in
Nairobi noted that internet use in Kenya can only go up for now
while charges come down because of two things.
"First is that everyone wants to own a smart phone which are
driving data usage and second, internet has become a basic
service for Kenyans who need to socialise, do their banking,
research and access government services," he noted, adding that
data Facebook has shaken the Kenyan market.
Communication Authority attributes rise in uptake of internet
to competition among service providers through offering of
"The internet usage continues to grow in the country,
bringing with it new ways of transacting, communicating,
learning, socialising and transforming every aspect of daily
life. With the expanded availability of internet bandwidth, the
growth of internet usage is expected to rise in the country,"
says the regulator.