Steve Umidha @steveumidha
Mobile phone operators and service providers could be the biggest casualties of Airtel Kenya’s bold move to slash its local call rates by Sh2 per minute across all networks.
The move according to analysts could prompt a reaction in the local telecoms market, ushering a better time for the shilling-pressed customer. “Customers and economy will be the key beneficiaries from this move. And I am not surprised, because globally voice market today is under threat and it will not take too long before it goes down to one shilling,” former ICT Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo told People Daily yesterday.
Ndemo, however, believes that other players in the industry “might not necessarily follow suit.”
Airtel Kenya, the second largest telecommunication service provider in the local market after Safaricom, unveiled a new tariff yesterday that will offer its prepaid customers calls for Sh2 per minute across all networks with a 50 per cent saving from current on-net and off-net calls.
It said the service offered “without any conditions” will allow customers to enjoy making calls for a longer duration.“The pacesetter tariff is set to give Kenyans from all cadres of life, access to affordable communication services and ensure that they are well connected with their families and friends,” said Airtel Kenya Chief Executive Officer, Prasanta Das Sarma.
“We are delighted to be making history by introducing this new unique tariff that gives double the value to the customers as now they can talk twice as much while experiencing unmatched high quality on our network” he said.
Introduction of the 2bob tariff reveals the great milestones that have been achieved in the Kenyan telco industry on the journey of seeking to offer customers affordable calling rates.
“From the early 2000 when calls were charged at per minute billing rates of as high as Sh50 to the current rates of Sh4 to newly-launched Sh2 per minute are a true testament of the ever growing and changing nature of this industry,” said Sarma.
According to the latest statistics report from the Communications Authority of Kenya, which covers the period between January and March 2018, Airtel Kenya increased its local mobile voice traffic by recording a total of 3.6 billion minutes up from 2.5 billion minutes recorded during the previous quarter.
The increase is greatly attributed to the 1.3 million mobile subscriptions gained during the period under review as well as the aggressive marketing of Airtel’s products and services.
The telecoms sector continues to be a critical component of Kenya’s economic growth, performing strongly in terms of mobile money and ICT infrastructure expansion.