Safaricom’s boss welcomes the Airtel Telkom merger but says some conditions must be met

On September 3rd, Telkom Kenya CEO Mr. Mugo kibati caused a sensation when he accused Safaricom of frustrating an intended merger with Airtel – before it emerged that it was indeed anti-corruption detectives who had frozen it after smelling a rat in previous deal carried out by Telkom.

During the release of its half-year results for the period ended September 30th, Safaricom CEO, Mr. Michael Joseph retaliated that his company’s position was not to stir up the hornet’s nest.

When he rose up to speak, Joseph said that Safaricom welcomed the merger but had first written to the regulator raising several concerns it wanted addressed before the merger is granted a green light.  

“Bob Collymore himself encouraged the merger – from a competitive point of view, we don’t wish to be a monopoly ‘for sure’ – we would like to see strong competition. It would encourage us to be more agile and innovative in connectivity and data penetration, competition is good for us” Joseph Said.

Read also: From Grass to Grace – The Safaricom Story

On his part, Safaricom board Chairman Mr. Nicholas Nganga’s sentiments on the merger mirrored those of Joseph but added that Telkom Kenya must first clear a Ksh 1.2 Billion debt it owes Safaricom – debt incurred for the provision of interconnections, call locations and fiber services.

“Our expectation is that payment obligations should be settled in full before the transfer of business is effected,” He said

Mr. Nganga also called on the regulator to consider rebalancing the frequency allocation as part of the approval process, given the size of Safaricom’s customer base – to avoid the merger bringing about a disproportionate imbalance in the spectrum allocation that will see it become inconsistent with market share.

Making no bones about it, Michael Joseph further restated that his top priority was not the merger – but to transform Safaricom and its direction while breaking fresh ground with its customers after nineteen years in business.

He said that in addition to offering customers the freedom to purchase data bundles without expiry, they should expect new and new exciting services on mobile money and MPESA in general.

“In the past six months, despite challenges including depressed revenues from the betting industry, Mpesa revenues grew by 18 percent (Ksh 41.97bn)”

“We also want to make sure that there’s 4G coverage across Kenya so that data becomes much more affordable, we will be rolling out more 4G sites in the next three months so that by January most the country will be covered by 4G,” He said

Safaricom Half year results

From the half-year results, mobile data revenues continued flourishing, rising by 4 percent to Ksh 19.78bn in the six months to Sep 30th. However, voice and messaging took a hit, declining 1.4% (Ksh 46.87bn) and 11.0% (Ksh 8.60bn) respectively – on the back of a competitive market.

In the end, Safaricom announced that its total earnings after tax had reached Ksh 35. 65 B up from Ksh 32.2 B – a 14.5 percent increase from a similar period last year.