Day Safaricom rode on Airtel’s back

Safaricom and Airtel’s rivalry has gripped the country’s telecommunications sector for many years now. From price wars to poaching of key staff, the two telcos company have left nothing to chance as they fight for a share of the market.

In recent years, Airtel has even sought to have the Communications Authority declare Safaricom as a dominant player.

But Safaricom protested saying curtailing it dominance would limit its target to grow into a global brand. CEO Bob Collymore said that they should be allowed to continue with their growth strategy as long as they are abusing their dominance.

According to 2015 statistics, Safaricom controls 64.7 percent of mobile voice subscribers, 63 percent of mobile data subscribers and 71.7 percent of mobile money users. Efforts at SIM portability are yet to bear fruit.

In May, Safaricom announced a 19.6 per cent net profit rise to Sh38.1 billion in the year to March 2016. On the other hand, Airtel, in 2015, threatened it may eventually exit Kenya after failing to make any profit in five years.

“The shareholders of Airtel at some point will say: ‘Thank you, Kenya, we are no longer investing here’,” its chief executive Adil El Youssefi said.

While Airtel had the support of then Information and Communications Technology Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i, the CA chose not to impose sanctions on Safaricom.

It is with this bitter rivalry in mind, that this photo of a van branded in Airtel colours ferrying a Safaricom MPESA agent kiosk got some excited when it was posted on Facebook.

Day Safaricom rode on Airtel's back Safcom Safaricom rivalry communications Airtel

“The rich piggy ride on the struggling” is the caption Nation editor John Kamau gave to the photo when he posted it. While this was not the case, as they say, a picture is worth one thousand words.

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