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Friday, December 9, 2016


Unconfirmed reports indicate that mobile operator MTN of South Africa is considering making a bid for Airtel Kenya operations as the struggling carrier continues to bleed cash.

It is not clear at what stage those talks, if at all, are but the corporate grapevine suggests that this may be more than a passing interest for the giant telecom with a footprint across the continent.

If valid, this would provide leading telco Safaricom with its first serious challenge from a company with experience in doing business on the continent.

The Kenyan market is not altogether new terrain for MTN. The company already operates in the country as MTN Business after taking over the operations of corporate Internet Service Provider, Uunet Kenya a few years back.

And with margins from Voice revenue shrinking, the battle for the next decade is likely to shift to Data services and Mobile Financial Services. MTN already operates on both fronts.

Concurrently, the industry regulator, Communications Authority of Kenya, is awaiting the findings of a study it has commissioned on Market Dominance out of which far reaching policy changes affecting the competitive landscape could be made.

Also, third operator Orange, recently taken over by private equity firm Helios Partners, is expected to make a resurgent push for market share in Q1 2017.

After assessing its network and realizing that Orange had made significant investments into a first class network, Helios has gone about getting the right people to run the company quietly staffing it with experienced managers.

Reports indicate it could overtake Airtel into second place in market share after its initial push.]

An independent report by Safaricom for instance, showed that Orange is gaining the largest share of the teen market something it could work hard to convert into long time subscribers.

Either way, the market is about to witness interesting developments.