SMS, internet use grows in Kenya as voice calls fall during lockdown

Kenyans appetite for the internet grew alongside short message services (SMS) between April and June this year while voice calls retracted during the lockdown period.

Statistics from the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) show thar total internet subscriptions grew by 5.2 per cent to 41.5 million from 39.3 million in March.

The report covered the three months after the onset of the pandemic in Kenya.

SMSs’ sent over the same period increased by a significant 19.5 percent to 20 billion.

The notable growth in the standard short messages was attributed to attractive SMS bundles promotions and tariffs by telco operators which drew in the younger population.

The youth have remained largely at home after education institutions closed down.

Consequently, the average number of text messages sent by each mobile subscription in a month rose to to 117 from 101 in the previous quarter.

The volume of local voice traffic however plunged by 0.9 per cent to 15.2 billion minutes from 15.3 billion minutes in the previous quarter.

This as the pandemic disrupted normal calling patterns amidst reduced business activity.

Similarly, international mobile traffic was on the decline with the volume of incoming calls sliding by 4.1 per cent to 37.8 million minutes.

Outgoing calls were down 0.6 per cent at 118.1 million minutes.

Overall, mobile subscriptions were up 3.3 per cent between April and June at 57 million representing a 119.9 percent mobile SIM penetration rate.

The growth which resulted in an additional 1.8 million new subscriptions was recorded as the government continued to push for the use of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs).

This includes e-government services and e-education as part of efforts to contain the spread of the pandemic.

Safaricom retained its hold of the telco sector with a 64.2 market share in spite of losing a marginal 0.3 percent of subscriptions.

Airtel and Telkom Kenya meanwhile gained equal market shares of 0.2 percent to grow their stock of subscriptions to 26.8 per cent and six percent respectively.

Equitel saw its market share contract by 0.1 per cent to a flat three per cent.