Kenyan Government Wants  Safaricom to Share Telco Infrastructure


Following incessant calls by Kenyan Senators on the need to split Safaricom’s telecoms business from its financial business, the Kenya’s Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) has approached Parliament with new laws that would require the country’s telco’s – mainly Safaricom – to share their private infrastructure on a commercial basis.

“The authority’s view is that ab initio infrastructure provisions in the sector should have been separated from the mobile network operators. Primarily regulations should have been developed to ensure that third parties provide the infrastructure. Unfortunately, this did not happen,” says CAK Director-General, Francis Wang’ombe Kariuki.

“It is with this reality that we opine regulations should be promulgated and enforced in regard to infrastructure sharing on a commercial basis and in case of dispute, the sector regulator [Communications Authority of Kenya] may act as the arbiter.”

According to Business Daily, Safaricom has the broadest national coverage, was the first to launch the cutting-edge 5G technology and has been spending more than Sh30 billion each year on its infrastructure – more than any of its competitors.

Senators in Kenya believe that Safaricom should split into two firms – Mobile Services and M-PESA. According to The Star, a split would see the mobile telephony service regulated by the Communication Authority of Kenya (CAK) and the M-Pesa division regulated by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK).

It was reported recently that senators believe there should be a level playing ground for the likes of Telkom and Airtel Kenya who operate at the mercy of Safaricom as they owe it billions of shillings.

“The market is not competitive any more. The other operators should be allowed to operate, by giving the dominant operator its right, but also allowing the others to operate, and allow innovation in the country,” says Senator Petronilla Were of the ICT committee.

Senator Irungu Kang’ata echoed this sentiment, saying “in Kenya, you have a situation where one single player dictates how much you are going to pay for data bundles, for calls and Short Message Service because it controls almost 90 per cent of the market”.

Senator Enock Wambua urged Safaricom to confirm whether it is a communication company or a banking institution. “I would suggest that Safaricom is split into two. Safaricom the communication company, regulated by the Communication Authority of Kenya (CAK), and the M-Pesa division regulated by the Central Bank of Kenya.”

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