Kenya has nearly 300,000 5G phone users, according to the latest data from the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), the telecommunications and communications industry regulator.
Per the CA’s quarterly statistics for the fourth quarter of 2022, 5G mobile data subscriptions stood at 299,904 between September and December 2022, the first quarter during which 5G mobile services were officially available in the country on a commercial basis. Before then, 5G mobile network services had been under testing in several counties in the country including Nairobi.
4G mobile networks continue to lead the industry with subscriptions totalling over 20.5 million.
However, given that feature phones continue to have a slight edge over smartphones in the Kenyan mobile phone market, it is not surprising that the 2G network is the second most used in the country with 15.8 million subscriptions. 3G network subscriptions are second last with 11 million subscriptions.
According to the CA, mobile network operators in the country reported to it a total of 63.3 million mobile phones on their networks. Out of those, 53% were feature phones while 47% were smartphones.
“This trend indicates an increasing demand and uptake of smartphones mainly driven by demand for broadband-enabled services and accessibility to the devices.”
Last year, with an impending commercial launch of 5G networks in the country, starting with Safaricom’s 5G network which went first towards the end of the year, there were a number of mid-range 5G smartphones from the likes of Nokia, Oppo, Xiaomi and Samsung that were launched. Heck, we even saw freshly-dethroned market leader Transsion’s various brands also release 5G smartphones in the local market.
The trend is expected to continue this year with Airtel, the country’s second-largest mobile network operator going by its 17.6 million subscribers, set to begin testing its own 5G network after recently acquiring the necessary regulator approvals and spectrum to enable it to do so.
Market leader Safaricom’s subscriber base stands at 43 million, according to the Communications Authority, with 1.1 million being postpaid subscribers, the highest in the country. Airtel Kenya’s postpaid subscriber count stands at a paltry 91,668.
Equity Bank subsidiary Finserve, which operates as Equitel, a virtual operator riding on Airtel’s network and largely involved in the provision of financial services, is the fourth-largest mobile network operator in the country with 1.5 million subscribers, at least 4.5 times more than Jamii Telecom (Faiba).
Of the 65.7 million mobile phone subscribers in the country, Telkom Kenya, the country’s third-largest mobile network operator whose ownership controversially changed hands in the second half of 2022, only had 5% or a little over 3 million.
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