Overview of the ICT Sector

The ICT sector is regulated by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK). CAK was established in 1999 by the Kenya Information and Communications Act, 1998. The authority is responsible for facilitating the development of the Information and Communications sectors including; broadcasting, multimedia, telecommunications, electronic commerce, postal, and courier services.

The telecoms industry in Kenya is going through profound changes. In the past decade, technological advancement and regulatory restructuring has transformed the industry. Markets that were formerly distinct, discrete and vertical have coalesced across their old boundaries with a massive investment of capital – much of it originating from private sector participants.

The result is new markets, new players, and new challenges. The government has played a key a role in the growth of sector through increased market liberalization efforts. Increased market liberalization and demand driven by a technologically savvy population has driven the increased investment in the local sector by world leading telecommunication providers such as Vodafone, France Telecom’s and Essar Communications, through their local subsidiaries.

The number of mobile data/internet subscriptions rose to 16.3 million at the end of December 2014 up from 13.1 million in December 2013. Satellite subscriptions exhibited continuous growth in the last quarter of 2014 to reach 712 subscriptions up from 682.0 subscriptions in December 2013.

The last quarter of 2014 witnessed growth in data and internet subscriptions by 24.5% to reach 16.45 million subscriptions from 13.1 million subscriptions for of the fourth quarter of 2013. The continued growth in data and internet market is largely driven by increased mobile based internet penetration as a result of operators focus on growing revenue from the data market.

Fiber subscriptions have been steadily growing with the last quarter of 2014 recording a rise of 17.2% to reach 81,243 subscriptions from 67,470 registered in December 2013. The number of estimated internet users in Dec 2014 grew by 18.6% representing 26.1 million users up from 21.2 million recorded in December 2013.

Future of ICT

ICT is a pillar of development, and will continue to grow in tandem with the economy and the population. The demand for ICT products and services will continue to grow as both the private and public sector upgrade existing technologies to optimize operational efficiency and service offering. The section below highlights the key drivers facilitating the shift in the industry outlook.

  1. Shift in revenue mix – Rise of non-traditional services will affect current ICT cash cows i.e. voice and messaging, pushing revenues to decline. Growth will be driven by new services: mobile broadband, cloud and ICT services, M2M, social media, and m-advertising.
  2. Shift in margins– Revenue growth at riskier margins. In the future, new services being chased for growth like internet connectivity, IT-services and M2M have the risk of tighter margins (<30%).
  3. Demand for data connectivity– By 2020, the global ICT industry forecasts the existence of 12 billion internet enabled devices (internet of things), and multiple connections per ranging from cars to household appliances, vehicles, and mobile devices.
  4. Pan-African economic growth– Strong economic and population growth will ensure the demand for ICT products and services. Moreover, the construction of residential and office space will increase the demand for fixed line connections.
  5. Ease of doing business– Governments are focused on eliminating the barriers of doing business by optimizing operational efficiency and mitigating bureaucratic challenges through the use of technology.