In Summary
  • Safaricom’s dominance and what to do about it has been and will continue to be a hot potato.

  • A little help in catching up with the giant's subscriber numbers in voice, mobile money and data would be most welcome.

  • This is a company that is not only contributing heavily to our tax base but also transforming lives in many ways.

That Safaricom is dominant in the voice, data and mobile money markets is not really debatable. What is debatable is what the regulator plans to do about it. 

Over the past four years the communication regulator has breathed hot and cold over the issue and most recently hired an international consultant, Analysis  Mason, to do a comprehensive telecoms study and advise on the way forward.

The report from the consultants leaked last year, with the news that they had proposed a breakup of the giant company as a way to resolve the dominance question.

I recall arguing against such a recommendation to split Safaricom since I felt the issue at hand is really not the size of the company but rather the central role their flagship product M-Pesa has over our social, economic and political fabric.

SPLIT COMPANY

In a supposedly more recent leaked report, it was reported that the consultants had dropped the recommendation to split the company.

This led to a hue and cry from various stakeholders, particularly Safaricom's competitors, forcing the regulator to issue a press release on the Kenya ICT Action Network  list urging all parties to ignore the allegations, pending the finalisation of the report.

Clearly, Safaricom’s dominance and what to do about it has been and will continue to be a hot potato irrespective of how the consultants finally conclude and present their recommendations.

But many would wonder, why would someone want to curtail the success of one company by splitting it up? 

TAX

This is a company that is not only contributing heavily to our tax base but also transforming lives in many ways, and has brought fame and glory to Kenya.

It is easy to understand why competitors would want the runaway success of Safaricom to be regulated. After all, a little help in catching up with the giant's subscriber numbers in voice, mobile money and data would be most welcome.

Page 1 of 2