As the 2011 comes to an end and we prepare to usher in 2012, here is our list of top 5 predictions for the coming year in the country’s vibrant ICT sector:
- Essar Telecom Kenya’s YU will continue to lose subscribers: despite having the cheapest calling rates in the country, YU will continue to lose subscribers. Just as the statistics released in October 2011 by telecoms industry regulator, the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK), indicated that YU lost 1,554 of its subscribers between March and June 2011 to Safaricom and Telkom Kenya’s Orange, this trend is expected to continue in 2012. In June 2011, YU had a higher market share of 7.4 per cent compared to Orange Kenya’s 2.7 per cent but this reduced to 6.3 per cent as of June 2011. What should worry the firm is that users are leaving the network in spite of the fact that its on-net calls are free while cross-network calls are charged Ksh 3 per minute. There are also rumours that Essar Telecom’s Kenya operations could be acquired by South Africa’s MTN Group.
- Bob Collymore’s second year at Safaricom to be marked by even less product and service innovations: Since taking over from Michael Joseph in November 2010 as chief executive, Safaricom has had very little to show in terms of product and service innovations and launches, the only notable exception being the Safaricom Cloud service launched in November this year. Collymore has been more visible in pushing the firm’s corporate social responsibility (CSR), most notable being during the “Kenyans for Kenya” campaign where he played a key role in the drive to raise funds for starving Kenyans in northern part of the country. May be it has something to do with the fact that Collymore was previously Vodacom Group’s chief officer for corporate affairs responsible for the Group’s corporate communication, ethics and compliance, legal, external relationships and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Quite a mouthful in terms of job title…
- Michael Joseph to be brought back to Safaricom to head M-Pesa: Due to the frequent service outages that have come to plague the M-Pesa platform recently and drawing from his long association with the network and money transfer service having launched it in early 2007, Michael Joseph is set to come to Kenya and help address some of the challenges facing the service. Joseph, currently Vodafone’s director of mobile payments charged with responsibility to drive M-Pesa in India as well as Vodafone’s African markets such as Mozambique, Ghana and Egypt, is reportedly set to come back to Kenya after the M-Pesa infrastructure including servers are moved to Kenya from Europe where it sits.
- Fake devices and unregistered SIMs won’t be disconnected by networks: Kenya’s telecoms industry regulator, the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) is unlikely to order the country’s four mobile phone service providers to disconnect fake devices on their networks. This prediction is based on the recent decision by the CCK to extend the deadline from the earlier date of December 31 2011 to April 2012, a four-month extension. Unregistered SIMs cards are even more unlikely to be disconnected as even network operators seem to be silently opposed to the move ever since the debate about the issue began over 2 years ago in Kenya.
- Nokia’s visibility in Kenya in terms of new products and media engagement will continue to reduce: In the face of its continued loss of market share globally to other emerging mobile device brands followed by the recent announcement that it would close the Kenya office, Nokia’s local visibility is set to further plummet. The situation is further aggravated by the fact that the firm has lost two of its visible and approachable faces in Kenya, that is Dorothy Ooko (who used to handle regional communications) and Kenneth Oyolla who is serving on notice till the end of 2011 as Nokia’s head in eastern and southern Africa.