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Kenya

Telkom Orange turns one

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 18 – Telkom Orange is targeting to increase its market share in the mobile telephony sector by seven percent by 2010.

Speaking during celebrations to mark the company’s one-year in operation, Chief Executive Mickael Ghossein said the company would be unveiling affordable telecommunications solutions and services for its customers once they migrate the network to fibre optic.

He revealed that not all targets for the first year had been achieved.

“We had a target of 1.8 million subscribers but we are currently on 1.3 million,” he said.

Telkom currently operates Orange on GSM network, Orange Fixed Plus which uses CDMA technology and plans are underway to revamp the Telkom Fixed (landline) services.

“If you add all these we are well beyond two million subscribers,” he highlighted.

Telkom is the country’s third largest mobile service provider by market share.

Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) figures show that Kenya has close to 18 million mobile users, spread out between the four service providers.

On September 17 last year, Orange became the commercial brand for Telkom Kenya following a takeover by France Telkom of the 51 percent shareholding of the former parastatal.

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Mr Ghossein however said the company would not be dragged into pricing battles with other service providers.
He said Telkom would concentrate on providing quality services to its customers, which he adds was beneficial to all mobile subscribers.

“Customers are no longer interested in price wars by service providers but on quality services.”

“I believe Orange today has the best quality services despite our limited coverage because number of customers is not an indicator of quality services you offer.”

He was of the idea for the industry to make greater strides, cross network tariffs needed to come down and questioned moves by other providers to “lock in their customers within their network.”

Mr Ghossein also said efforts to make number portability a reality in Kenya should be fast tracked to pass on benefits to consumers.

He said it had been a success in the United Kingdom and France and given the number of mobile subscribers in Kenya should be relatively easy to implement.

“I know it is good but the only problem is the fear of loosing market share to the competition.”

There has been some debate in the industry on whether number portability would work, especially on the pass through cost to the consumer, who would have to pay more retain their number but access services from other service providers.

Mr Ghossein also revealed the company was looking into the possibility of starting a money transfer service that will shake up the mobile telephony sector.

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“We are checking whether it is reliable so that we can avoid money laundering because in the first place we are a telephone company not a bank.”

He targeted the first quarter of 2010 as the rolled out rime for the product.

Mobile banking has been a revelation with Safaricom the fist to introduce it into the market with M-Pesa followed by Zain with Zap.

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