More feature phones than smartphones connected to Kenya’s mobile networks in third quarter of 2021




Slightly less than 60 million (or about 59 million) mobile devices were connected to mobile networks in the country for the third quarter of the year ending September 2021, according to the industry stats report by the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA).

The quarterly sector statistics report, which is based on returns by mobile operators shows that out of the number, 33 million were feature phones while 26 million were smartphones, putting the penetration levels at  67.9 per cent and 53.4 per cent respectively.

The report covering the period from July – September 2021 also shows that the number of mobile money subscriptions reduced by 0.2 per cent to stand at 64.9 million, attributed to an increase in inactive SIM cards as a result of subscribers defaulting on mobile money loans.

‘‘This is attributed to the increase in the number of mobile loan defaulters whose SIM cards remained inactive during the reference period,’’ notes the report.

During the period under review, the total value of mobile money deposits stood at Kshs 1.1 trillion, while the value of person-to-person transfers stood at Kshs 1 trillion. The mobile money penetration now stands at 71 per cent.

The mobile subscriptions also dropped marginally to stand at 64.9 million, out of which 63.6 million are prepaid subscriptions while 1.2 million are postpaid subscriptions. The mobile (SIM) penetration stands at 133.3 per cent.

Mobile data/Internet services declined by 2.4 per cent to record 44.88 million subscriptions from 46.0 million subscriptions recorded during the preceding quarter. On the other hand, the increasing  demand and uptake of higher Internet speeds by subscribers pushed the mobile broadband subscriptions by 0.53 per cent to stand at 26.90 million.

The report shows Safaricom commanded the largest market shares across mobile money, mobile data and mobile broadband at 64.6 per cent, 98.5 per cent and 65 per cent respectively. Airtel follows in second position with 26.4 per cent, 0.8 per cent and 27.9 per cent across the three areas followed by Telkom Kenya, Finserve and Jamii Telecom.

During the quarter, there were 90,805 dot ke (or .ke) domains out which ‘co.ke’ domain recorded the highest number of users at 94.6 percent.

The number of cyber threat incidences detected by the Kenya National Computer Incident Response Team/Coordination Centre (National KE-CIRT/CC) in the period went up by 37 per cent to 38.7 million, with 25,969 advisories issued.

To facilitate uptake of radio communication services, the Authority assigned frequencies to various operators for deployment of 240 microwave links and processed the decommissioning of 364 fixed links during the period under review. In addition, the Authority assigned 12 FM sound broadcasting frequencies to broadcasters.

The report notes that while  infrastructure improvements coupled by the availability of cheap smartphones and digitization of crucial government services have driven increased access to and use of Internet services in the country in the recent years, the COVID-19 has further accentuated the situation.

And as the economy recovers from the negative COVID-19 effects, the report is calling for increased connectivity of ICT services across the country, particularly the Internet.

‘‘The government in collaboration with the relevant stakeholders will need to fast track Internet connectivity across the country, strengthen the existing ICT policies, legal and regulatory frameworks, and support the development of digital skills especially in rural Kenya,’’ notes the report in part.

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