Kenya’s telecommunication sector is headed for a major shake-up after the entrance of a new player, who has stirred up the market and stiffened competition.
Home-grown company Jamii Telecom this week joined the East African nation’s voice and mobile phone internet market, which is currently dominated by Safaricom, Telkom and Airtel.
Safaricom is the market leader with an over 70 percent share of the voice and data markets, followed by Airtel and Telkom.
Jamii Telecom, which will offer services under the trade mark Faiba, promises exciting times in the sector with its prices for both voice and mobile data set lower.
Kenyans are currently calling on-net and off-net at between 0.02 U.S. dollar and 0.05 dollars a minute, with Safaricom offering the most expensive rates at up to 0.05 dollars.
Telkom and Airtel charges, on the other hand, are at between 0.02 dollars and 0.03 dollars for on-net and off-net services respectively, with some bundles giving subscribers free calls.
For internet, charges across the board start from 0.02 dollars per megabyte (MG) to 5 dollars for 1,000 gigabyte (GB). Some of the telecoms offer the data bundles along with SMSs and voice calls.
However, Jamii Telecom promises the cheapest data services in particular on a 4G network, with the firm selling 1GB data bundle for 0.50 dollars. The telecom offers have excited citizens.
On social media, subscribers lauded the new entrant noting that the market needs such offers to increase competition.
“You mean I can buy 40GB at 20 dollars, which is valid for 30 days. Jamii is the real deal. I have no choice but to switch,” Joash Mtiu said Thursday.
“Jamii Telecom has brought to the market what everyone else was wishing for. Competition that will trigger the other players to come up with even better services for us,” said Beatrice Wafunya.
In offering its fastest and cheapest mobile and internet services, Jamii Telecom is partnering with Chinese tech-giant ZTE.
Through its Faiba network, Kenyans will get free voice and video calls via Voice over Long Term Evolution (VoLTE) technology, a standard for high-speed wireless communication, according to Chairman Joshua Chepkwony.
He said that there is a consistent increase in demand for internet services in Kenya especially via the mobile phone, thus, the company is maximizing on the gap.
Analysts predict better times for Kenyans in both the voice and data markets with the entrance of the new firm.
Henry Wandera, an economics lecturer in Nairobi, noted that the company’s focus on data will eat into the market share of the other top telecoms.
“I expect to see in the next two weeks market wars as the telecoms battle to retain their market share. What the new company is offering is certainly irresistible and with a market that is increasing leaning to data thanks to a growing number of smart phones, Kenyans are set for an interesting time ahead. The good thing is that consumers are the winners,” he said.
On the other hand, Robert Alai, a technology blogger noted that the low charges by the telecom would reintroduce the debate of whether the telecoms should not charge termination rates.
“The Faiba 4G Mobile offerings will ignite debate on need to resume the call termination rates glide to zero. With Voice over LTE, subscribers will want almost “free voice calls” as inspired by Jamii from the other telecoms,” he said.
However, some observers see the East African nation’s telecom market would not change much even with the entrance of Jamii as its pricing model may be unsustainable.
“Jamii Telecom prices may not be sustainable in the long run and we expect Safaricom to retain its market share with M-Pesa being its key pillar in serving the region,” Apex Africa, a stock brokerage firm said Thursday. Enditem