Voice, SMS and data traffic among East Africa countries in record increase

Kenya’s mobile subscribers roaming-out voice traffic posted 35.8 million minutes, 30 million of which were to East African Community (EAC) countries in the three months between January -March 2016 according to latest sector statistics released by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA). On the other hand, foreign subscriber roaming-in voice traffic registered a total of 27.3 million minutes during the period under review with EAC countries posting 23.3 million minutes.

The pattern of high traffic within EAC was observed in SMS and data segments, a trend that is mainly attributed to the One Network Area (ONA) initiative that saw the capping of the regional retail voice tariff to US $0.10 (Kshs 10) per minute.

Total roaming out data stood at 2.3 million MB during the quarter under review with EAC countries contributing the greatest volume of 1.2 million MB while the total number of roaming out messages was registered at 4.3 million with the EAC countries contributing 1.4 million messages. Roaming in data traffic stood at 8.7 million MB.

In the ONA arrangement, both out-roamers and in-roamers are not charged for receiving calls while roaming across the four member countries of the Northern Corridor (Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan and Burundi).


Kenyans are also exhibiting a growing preference for over-the-top (OTT) applications such as Whatsapp, Facebook messenger, Viber, Snapchat and Skype among others. According to the Quarter Three Sector report by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), the growing trend is attributed to increased access to the Internet, increased affordability of data bundles and high use of social media,

The number of mobile subscribers continues on an upward trajectory, to stand at 38.3 million out of which 37.4 million access the Internet, pushing mobile and Internet penetration levels to 89.2 per cent and 87.3 per cent, respectively.

According to the Sector Report of January-March 2016, the number of text messages sent locally during the period dropped by 19.7 per cent to reach 6.5 billion down from 8.1 billion messages sent during the previous quarter.

The significant drop in SMS traffic attributed the popular use of Over-The-Top (OTT) services saw a dip in SMS sent within mobile networks from 7.6 billion posted during the last quarter to 6.0 billion messages during the quarter under review. On average, each subscriber sent 57 messages per month.

The mobile telephone sub sector grew by 1.8 percent to reach 38.3 million up from 37.7 million subscriptions recorded during the previous quarter. The quarter also saw the launch of Sema Mobile Services, the second Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), in the market.

Even though there was a marginal drop in the local mobile voice traffic by 0.2 percent, Kenyans called more with each subscriber said to have called for an average of 93.2 minutes per month during the quarter up from 89.0 minutes recorded during the previous quarter. Mobile money transfer subscriptions were recorded at 24.8 million while the number of mobile money agents increased to 147,761, as the number of mobile commerce transactions reach 190.3 million with the volumes valued at Ksh. 312.0 billion.

The increased expansion of 3G services in the country seems to have paid off as seen in the massive use of mobile data/Internet services, with data/Internet subscriptions growing by 3.8 percent to reach 24.8 million in the quarter.

According to the report, the number of domain names registered by the Kenya Network Information Centre (KENIC) grew significantly by 13.percent by the end of the period under review to stand at 58,259 up from 51,548 domain names recorded in the previous quarter. However, no growth was observed in the broadcasting sector, as the postal and courier sub-sector saw a decline of 27 per cent in the number of letters posted locally.

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