Accurate information on telecommunications traffic will allow Kenya to plan for the future

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The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has released the Sector Statistics Report for the 3rd Quarter of 2015-2016, covering January to March 2016. One major finding was the19.3% decline in Short Messaging Service (SMS) or text messages sent locally from 8.1 billion to 6.5 billion—a significant drop.

All the local networks—Safaricom (with the highest SMS market share at 89.9% during the quarter), Airtel, Orange Kenya, Finserve Africa, and Sema Mobile Services experienced a similar drop in the number of text messages.  The overall drop in the number of SMSes sent is attributed to reduced activity following the end of the festive season and the subsequent reopening of schools.  However, the significant drop in SMS traffic could also be attributed to the popular use of Over-the-Top (OTT) services like WhatsApp and Hangouts among others.  On average each subscriber sent 57 messages per month.

The advent of the Internet is changing the way thousands of mobile phone users communicate with one another. The number of Internet subscribers in Kenya in grew by 3.8% to reach 24.8 million subscriptions—up from the 23.9 million subscriptions reported during the previous quarter.  This means that a relatively large number of Kenya’s population can now access features like WhatsApp—a cheaper option than voice calls. At the same time, the increased cost of voice bundle rates have discouraged many voice bundle subscribers—motivating them to find alternative ways of staying in touch such as WhatsApp and Facebook calling.

Experts feel that while more forms of communication go through the data market, it will be a long time before these customers outnumber those still sending messages the traditional way—mainly because users must have a Smartphone to benefit from this.  Data may not replace the specific solutions business for the mass market, but it will certainly make communication cheaper.  There will always be markets with specific needs.

In view of how the Internet is changing calling trends, if the government of Kenya wishes to capitalise on the development potential of telecommunications in the future, it will be important for the authorities to have accurate information on the numbers of all the different kinds of traffics so they can provide adequately for future development.  One way of doing this is through the solutions provided by a company like Global Voice Group’s sophisticated computerised systems which allow for the collection, consolidation and processing of all data pertaining to the sale of telecommunications products and services in a given country.   Some of the data collected are:

·         total airtime sold

·         the number of active mobile Internet subscribers

·         the revenue associated with all the products and services supplied by the mobile network operators.

The data can be used independently to calculate and quantify mobile Internet penetration—important information for decision-makers—especially where the allocation of resources is concerned.

Governments also need full visibility over the revenues generated by all the transactions related to mobile telecommunications.  This allows them to harness the full potential of the telecoms sector as an effective driving force for development, to make informed policy decisions and to plan effectively for the future.

In view of how the Internet is changing calling trends, if the government of Kenya wishes to capitalise on the development potential of telecommunications in the future.

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The Author – Suzette Plantema has a lively interest in the world around her­ – she has been a passionate writer for almost 30 years.  She speaks several languages, has worked for several blue-chip companies, has BA Honours degrees in English and French as well as a mini MBA and a Certificate in French Language and Literature from the University of Aix-Marseilles, France.

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