, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 17 – The number of local Internet subscribers has dropped by 6.1 percent to 11.6 million in the quarter ending September 2013, down from 12.4 million in June 2013 according to the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) – the first negative growth recorded in the local Internet market.
According to the CCK Quarterly Sector Statistics Report for the first quarter of the 2013/14 financial year released on Thursday, the number of local Internet users dropped to 19.1million down from 19.6 million posted in the previous quarter.
“This has reduced the penetration rate of Internet services from 49.7 percent to 47.1 percent,” CCK stated.
CCK attributes the decline to the revision of the national population figure from 39.5 million to 40.7 million as reflected in the Economic Survey 2013.
The SIM card registration audit which deactivated unregistered SIMs and reduction in satellite use also had an impact on the drop.
“The evolution of mobile data/Internet subscription market share from the previous quarter was as follows: Safaricom (73.2 percent from 75.6 percent); Airtel (14.3 percent from 12.9 percent), Essar (7.3 percent from 6.4 percent), Orange (5.2 percent from 5.0 percent),” the report indicates.
Broadband connections came in at 1,397,906 – a 0.1 percent decline from the previous quarter.
During the same period, the mobile telephony subscribers increased by 2.5 percent to reach 31.3 million up from 30.5 recorded in the previous quarter.
The report indicates that there were 752,084 new subscribers in the quarter compared to 700,086 in the previous one with Safaricom increasing new subscribers by 0.6 percent to 66. 5 percent up from 65.9 percent in the previous quarter.
Airtel increased subscribers by 0.5 percent to 17.6 percent from 17.1 percent.
Orange increased new subscribers to 7.1 percent from seven percent compared to the previous one. However, Essar dropped by 1.22 percent to 8.8 percent down from 10 percent.
The number of Short Message Service (SMS) went up by 19.5 percent to 5.2 billion up from 4.3 billion recorded in the previous quarter with each subscriber sending an average of 54 messages per month, according to the report.
The evolution of SMS market share from the previous quarter was as follows: Safaricom (unchanged at 95.7 percent); Airtel (3.5 percent from 3.4 percent), Essar (3.5 percent from 3.4 percent), Orange (unchanged at 0.6 percent).
Mobile money transfer services continued on an upward trajectory with subscribers increasing by 1.1 percent to reach 25.1 million up from 24.8 million in the previous quarter.
However, the number of multimedia messages sent dropped from 2.5 million in the previous quarter to 2.2 million largely as a result of competition from other similar services such as Over the Top messaging applications like WhatsApp and the higher cost of the service compared to SMS.
“Bandwidth capacity shrunk marginally to stand at 862,834 Mbps during the quarter of which the utilised capacity stood at 360,900 Mbps representing 41.8 percent of the total capacity,” the report indicated.
Safaricom had the largest gain of new subscribers at 89.7 percent, with Essar losing subscriber market share to Airtel.
Voice traffic market share by Safaricom decreased slightly to 79.1 percent from 80.2 percent in the previous quarter while Airtel increased to 10.7 percent from 10.4 percent.
Essar also rose to 8.3 percent from 8.0 percent while Orange notched higher to 1.9 percent from 1.4 percent.
Commenting on the report, Standard Investment Bank Research department however says the quarterly Internet figures are not a reflection of Internet data trends.
“We see the current restated numbers as a truer reflection of the penetration rate which will continue to grow,” the department commented.
According to the report, the number of licensed FM radio stations and analogue TV stations during the quarter was 103 and 14 respectively. With the impending analogue switch off, 25 channels had already been activated on the digital platform.
Although the postal/courier sector continued declining, the emergence of new industries such as e-commerce are likely to spur positive growth in the sector mainly through provision of last mile delivery of online purchases.