The large telecoms footprint of Safaricom on the Kenyan market worries the regulator. The operator, more present than Airtel and Telkom across the national territory, endangers competition. The gendarme of the telecoms market is considering various means to remedy this.
The Kenya Communications Authority (CA) has expressed to Parliament its desire to see it adopt new laws aimed at sharing telecoms infrastructure between the various operators present in the country. Through this enrichment of the legal environment which governs the national telecoms sector, the regulator wants to correct shortcomings which are currently giving rise to some problems.
Facing the Parliament, which questioned the telecoms regulator on Wednesday April 14 on the omnipotence of Safaricom, Francis Wang’ombe Kariuki (photo) the director general of the CA declared that ” the authority is of the opinion that the provisions ab initio in terms of infrastructure in the sector should have been separated from mobile network operators. Regulations should have been developed primarily to ensure that third parties provide the infrastructure. Unfortunately, this was not the case. It is with this reality that we are of the opinion that regulations should be promulgated and applied with regard to the sharing of infrastructure on a commercial basis and in the event of a dispute, the sector regulator can play the role of arbitrator ” .
Safaricom currently owns the largest mobile and fiber optic network in the country. Thanks to this telecoms footprint, the Kenyan market leader is present in several localities where its competitors are absent and dictates its law. While the need for telecom services is growing – driven by the indispensable nature of the Internet revealed by Covid-19 – the regulator is aware that an absence of competition in a large part of the country will danger to consumers’ freedom of choice.
The sharing of telecom infrastructures, beyond ensuring competition and fairness between telecom operators, will also help to save them money. By avoiding duplicating infrastructure in areas where they can be shared, the telecoms regulator believes that operators will be able to reinvest the money saved in other activities such as the development of value-added products or the extension of the network in areas not covered by the telecoms network.